01/09/2017 Our Luke Smith (Principal Energy Specialist and Head of Business Development at Build Test Solutions) maintains that there's much more to airtightness testing than compliance and leakage diagnostics.
08/05/2017 Better Housing, Better Health, our scheme for providing advice and energy efficiency measures for people whose health might be impacted by living in a cold or damp home, has now come to an end with some very successful results.
31/03/2017 The Department for Communities and Local Government has recently launched a new way to access Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and Display Energy Certificate (DEC) data for both domestic and non-domestic buildings in England and Wales. The Open Data service allows unprecedented insight into the nation’s building stock, allowing information on the energy use of buildings to be downloaded and analysed at a range of geographic levels.
20/03/2017 Faced with the urgent and important demands that buildings and Energy Managers are presented with every day, it's understandable that the equally important but less immediate challenge of understanding and optimising energy often has to take a back seat. It's often difficult and complex to understand how much energy your building is using, and how it breaks down into uses, time periods, zones and even tenants. Then there's the question of differentiating the building's intrinsic energy use from that needed to run its operations and activities. All told, it isn't surprising that, in spite of the rhetoric surrounding energy performance of buildings, all too often, relatively little is done in practice.
07/03/2017 Switching energy provider regularly is a sure-fire way to make sure you’re getting the best deal on your household gas and electricity. However, a lot of us don’t switch as regularly as we should, and some have never switched! This is because people wrongly assume that switching energy provider is a lot harder than it actually is.
13/02/2017 The National Energy Foundation, along with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Affordable Warmth Networks, is supporting the 2017 Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, which takes place on Friday 17 February. The day is part of a national campaign to highlight the struggle faced by millions of people in the UK, as well as drawing attention to the fantastic work being carried out to address this increasingly common issue.
29/12/2016 It’s that time of the year when, after weeks of excess spending and consumption, some of us turn our attention to self-improvement and self-restraint. The beginning of a new year is the time to put your best foot forward, so improving your household’s energy use should be at the top of your list of resolutions.
20/12/2016 Carbon offsetting makes a significant contribution to reducing carbon emissions and meeting nationally-determined targets. It also offers opportunities for local authorities to engage with their residents on issues such as climate change and provides a mechanism for financing a range of practical energy efficiency improvements and renewables that help improve the local area and residents’ wellbeing.
12/12/2016 While there are lots of free ways to save energy and lower your bills, sometimes it takes a small investment to keep your house cosy and reduce your overall energy spend. The following eight ideas all usually retail at below £20 and can make a substantial difference to your comfort and bills.
02/12/2016 All too often, the actual energy performance of new homes fails to meet their design standards. Despite the efforts planners, designers and developers put into achieving efficient energy use, occupied homes typically use at least twice as much energy as predicted The question is: how can developers and local authorities ensure that new housing schemes achieve their design standards and provide customers with the performance they expect?
28/11/2016 Saving energy and being energy-efficient aren’t just about going ‘green’, they’re also a great way to lower your energy bills, allowing you to have a bit of extra money each month. These quick wins are designed to be just that - quick and easy hints and tips that don’t require any financial investment and take minimal time.
14/11/2016 Here at the National Energy Foundation, we’re proud of the fact that we make a difference. Our Senior Project Officer, Alex Steeland, looks at how our practical projects make a difference by having a positive impact on people's lives and contribute to improving the use of energy in buildings.
09/11/2016 Winter is a busy time for us, as we promote the help offered by our Affordable Warmth service. We're out and about in the community, attending busy flu clinics at doctors' surgeries, having stands at information fairs with Age UK and carers groups, meeting with local community groups, and providing talks and training on how to alleviate fuel poverty and ensure residents are warm and well through the winter.
06/10/2016 Our Chief Executive looks at the introduction of the potential game-changing minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) for both domestic and non-domestic privately rented property. Both the UK and the EU face an enormous decarbonisation and energy-saving task ahead of them. It’s estimated that buildings account for around 40% of the EU’s total energy consumption and 43% of the UK’s total carbon dioxide emissions.
07/09/2016 Here at the National Energy Foundation, we are extremely grateful for the significant number of volunteered hours given by local community groups to boost our services to elderly and vulnerable people.
05/09/2016 Uncontrolled air leakage in buildings can account for as much as 30% of the total heat loss; an energy penalty that increases even further in premises that are cooled or continuously conditioned.
09/08/2016 With more than half the global population now living in urban areas, one of the key issues confronting us today is how we make our growing cities sustainable. A new hardback book 'Sustainable Cities' offers valuable insights for addressing this vital challenge. It evaluates our urban environments and assesses the progress that is being made towards achieving cities that are sustainable.
Reproduced here is the chapter on energy use in buildings, written by our Chief Executive, Kerry Mashford.
07/06/2016 The European Union is often accused by its detractors of forcing legislation upon the UK that is either unnecessary or that could have been introduced independently by the UK Government, and that much of the legislation has been watered down by other member states to a level where it lacks real teeth, but is more about form filling. The Union's proponents would counter that it has acted a spur to the UK, especially on environmental issues, forcing a foot-dragging Government to implement much needed environmental protection legislation.
25/05/2016 The social housing sector is diverse in both the number of providers that operate within it and the range of activities each one undertakes. In total, there are around 1,500 Registered Providers managing approximately 2.7 million units, worth in excess of £375 billion. It is a highly influential sector that drives innovation and quality standards across the housing market.
09/05/2016 So, David Cameron has negotiated a package of changes for a ‘reformed’ EU (based on immigration, British sovereignty and the Eurozone), the in/out referendum has been set for 23 June and the campaigns are underway. But what are the things to consider from an energy perspective?
11/04/2016 The European Commission recently announced €3.6 million grant funding to roll out Energiesprong - the innovative Dutch refurbishment process - in a number of European countries, including the UK. The aim of the multi-national ‘Transition Zero’ bid, which was led by Energiesprong UK and made to Horizon 2020 (the largest research and innovation programme of the European Commission) is to kick-start mass uptake of net-zero energy refurbishments of domestic properties, starting with the social housing sector.
05/04/2016 UK non-domestic buildings account for approximately 13% of final energy consumption. Disappointingly, the Committee on Climate Change’s 2015 report illustrated the need for better energy performance and energy savings: “Non-residential buildings emissions have stayed flat, with little evidence of any energy efficiency improvement.”
24/03/2016 Comment from our Chief Executive, Kerry Mashford. Prior to last May’s General Election, the Conservative manifesto was noticeably thin on firm energy efficiency commitments but the new Government’s subsequent approach has resulted in a dismantling of ‘green’ policies in favour of nuclear, fracking and a new ‘dash for gas’.
08/02/2016 If anyone needs convincing of the value of ESOS, we have the evidence. Over the course of the first tranche of ESOS compliance, we worked with a number of organisations and identified hundreds of energy-saving opportunities, the potential value of which was millions of pounds of savings.
05/01/2016 After the dust settled on this year’s unexpected General Election result, I wrote about what kind of energy-efficiency landscape we might see under a majority Government unfettered and unrestrained by a coalition. Although the Conservative manifesto was noticeably thin on firm energy efficiency commitments, industry leaders took comfort from the fact that Amber Rudd wasn’t a climate sceptic.
04/12/2015 Suffolk County Council has an ambition to reduce its carbon emissions by 60% by 2025, and recognises that investment in the region’s housing stock will be vital to hitting this target. As an essential first step, the National Energy Foundation was appointed to develop a housing stock database. This provides the basis of a detailed understanding of both the physical characteristics of the region’s housing as well as the socio-economic circumstances of its residents - information that is crucial in helping to design and appropriately target domestic energy efficiency programmes and campaigns.
13/11/2015 In 2014, Ron and Celia contacted our Affordable Warmth team concerning Celia’s mother and father-in law (Richard and Audrey) after their 35-year-old LPG boiler had broken down and was no longer functioning. Ron and Celia were very worried as Richard was terminally ill with both idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and a number of other conditions. To make matters worse, both Richard and Audrey suffered with osteoarthritis so found life particularly difficult when the weather was cold.
06/11/2015 There are lots of things you can do to keep your home warm whilst keeping bills down. Many are long-term solutions; such as insulating your loft and walls and making improvements to your heating system. However, these can take quite a long time to install so you don't feel the benefits for quite a while. Here are some tips which can help in the shorter term, and which you will feel the benefit of immediately.
09/10/2015 Although still in its early stages, Energiesprong UK is a membership organisation that has been formed by a number of leading social housing providers, construction companies, trade bodies and expert organisations. It aims to stimulate a ‘game-changing’ housing refurbishment sector in the UK and make net zero energy housing a reality – at an industrial scale.
01/10/2015 Our Energy Envoys scheme is a major new environmental volunteering scheme for young people to help schools and communities use energy more wisely, save money and reduce carbon emissions. Up to 300,000 young people across the UK who are working towards their Bronze, Silver or Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award now have the opportunity to volunteer as an Energy Envoy. At the recent launch of Energy Envoys, Alex Steeland outlined the scheme and described what's in it for participants.
30/09/2015 At the Buildings & Energy Efficiency Event in November, I’ll be presenting on using operational energy use data to improve non-domestic energy efficiency. A timely subject since one of the conclusions in the Committee on Climate Change’s 2015 Report to Parliament was that: “Non-residential buildings emissions have stayed flat, with little evidence of any energy efficiency improvement.”
10/09/2015 We coordinate Affordable Warmth networks across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, a part of which includes attending GP flu clinics to talk to people about how to keep warm and well over winter.
04/08/2015 The Localism Act 2011 introduced a new right whereby charitable trusts, voluntary bodies and community organisations can apply to carry out services provided by local authorities. At the same time, the economic crisis and the year-on-year tightening of their finances have forced councils to slim down on all fronts, including staffing. The result is a perfect storm in which they offload as many assets as possible in an effort to remain within their budgets and reduce their financial, legal and operational responsibilities.
22/06/2015 The dust having settled after the unexpected General Election result, our Kerry Mashford considers what the landscape for energy and energy efficiency will look like over the next five years.
15/06/2015 At a time when it’s estimated that a national, domestic low-carbon refurbishment programme would need an investment of £14.3 billion per year between now and 2025, our Intern, Dr Saad Hasan, looks at whether the Dutch Energiesprong model could be used to transform the construction industry and help the UK hit its emissions targets over the next 10 years?
28/05/2015 Our Communications Manager, David Dean, reports on his first year living with solar panels, and how being an independent electricity generator has changed the way he and his family view and use energy.
14/05/2015 Embarking on stock modelling is a major commitment, and a registered provider should choose a supplier who’s both up to the job and one the client is confident that he can get on with for the foreseeable future. Ideally, the supplier should provide a complete end-to-end package of professional services, be a ‘critical friend’ and guide the client through the associated technical, financial, social and logistical challenges.
07/05/2015 The Foundation’s overarching objective is improving the use of energy in buildings and part of our role is to provide impartial, reliable and comprehensive information to help people make the right choices about energy improvements in their homes, and improve their comfort and well-being. One of the services we provide is LogPile - a supplier database to help people who are either interested in, or have already started to use, biomass to heat their homes and provide hot water.
13/04/2015 The Government recently announced its latest domestic energy efficiency proposals in England and Wales. The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) take effect in the private rented sector as of 1 April 2018, and include a requirement for eligible properties to have a minimum E EPC rating before they can be rented out. How might MEES affect registered providers?
08/04/2015 Those living in rural parts of the country, particularly the elderly, are claimed by Age UK to be the ‘forgotten faces of fuel poverty’. Statistics collected by the Office for National Statistics show that residents living in rural communities are predominately aged over 60 with a disproportionately low number of people in the 19 to 35 age bracket.
10/03/2015 Understanding the importance of community engagement in principle can be easier than knowing what to do in practice. Our new online tool and series of action packs aim to help communities engage more people as they initiate, plan and deliver sustainable energy projects.
19/02/2015 We know that the value of property is a major preoccupation for many in the UK – particularly the majority who own their own home. We also like to invest in, and improve, our homes, and have a perceived and general notion that the money we spend is money well-spent and is ‘a good investment’. Somewhere along the line, we trust that it will manifest as an increase in value.
18/02/2015 Accessing trusted and tailored advice on the full range of energy improving refurbishment options available can be difficult for householders. In partnership with Carbon Co-op, URBED and OpenEnergyMonitor we are developing ‘My Home Energy Planner’, a tool to provide householders with accurate, comprehensive and usable information on the current and potential energy performance of their homes.
30/01/2015 Building on our extensive involvement in the Innovate UK Building Performance Evaluation programme, our Technical team is currently playing an important role in the ASSEMBLE project, a two-year collaborative research and development venture funded by industry and an Innovate UK ‘Future Energy Management’ grant.
30/01/2015 This week, the All-Party Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group (PRASEG) hosted an event on Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) titled ‘A million energy saving opportunities.’ A central concern was that HMOs have typically been left out of energy efficiency policymaking. A core part of the Government’s long-term domestic energy performance improvement – the EPC – is not required in HMOs, meaning relatively little data is collected on energy in these homes.
29/01/2015 Prepayment meters (PPMs) are a bit of a controversial topic. There are pros and cons to using them, although many of their typical consumers feel that they don’t have a choice in the matter. The common consensus among experts and analysts regarding PPMs is that they only offer the most expensive tariffs and those who are using them are the people that can least afford it. Energy suppliers say there is competition with prices, but Moneysupermarket says the cheapest tariff is from EDF Energy at £1,332 a year and the most expensive, from Scottish Power, is £1,368. Not much leeway there.
28/01/2015 At a launch event on Friday 30th January, campaigners and supporters from across the world of housing and health will meet to recognise the launch of a new project for the county of Oxfordshire – Better Housing, Better Health.
12/12/2014 The Milton Keynes Carbon Offset Fund (which is administered by the National Energy Foundation as one of our services to local authorities) pioneered the way when it was launched by Milton Keynes Council in 2008. The city has always been famous – infamous, really – as an innovator in the design and construction of new buildings and the methods and approaches supporting them. Therefore, it seemed natural that it should be the location for a model of carbon financing not yet seen elsewhere in the UK.
11/12/2014 Since the Planning and Energy Act in 2008, local authorities have been exploring their legal opportunity to define challenging standards for improving the energy performance of new development over and above Building Regulation requirements.
11/12/2014 We don’t need all the government, academic, policy institution and other reports to tell us what we already know, but they certainly confirm our existing understanding: the quality of housing is one of the most significant determinants of health.
10/12/2014 The Foundation is, once again, supporting community groups on thermography projects. Using special thermal imaging cameras, which detect and convert infrared radiation into a visible colour palette, it's easy to be able to show residents where heat is being lost from their property.
03/12/2014 There are 24,372 schools in the UK which, together, have a total annual energy bill of £543 million – approximately £22,800 per school – roughly equal to the salary of a newly qualified teacher. Part of our challenge is how to use this £543 million most effectively and to maximise the benefits for our nation’s children.
02/12/2014 There’s a growing need for those responsible for buildings to monitor and manage their energy use better - whether it’s because of the commercial bottom line, the ‘push’ of government legislation and initiatives, the desire to combat climate change, or the comfort and productivity of occupants.
26/11/2014 As an educational charity, the National Energy Foundation is always looking for ways to further knowledge and understanding of energy in buildings. This is true across all groups of people – even among those who, at the moment, are highly unlikely to be paying bills and taking responsibility for organising their own energy needs.
19/11/2014 We are currently working with the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) to deliver an innovative report on the challenges and opportunities of delivering higher energy-performing new homes (HEP Homes) in the region.
19/11/2014 The Home Energy Conservation Act (HECA) is one of the few local authority legislative reporting frameworks in relation to the promotion and implementation of energy efficiency. HECA can be used as a lever to make the case for getting some projects off the ground to incentivise energy efficiency.
19/11/2014 In 2012, Green Deal heralded a brand new policy to improve the energy efficiency of the nation’s housing stock through a model of financing the installation costs of measures via the savings in energy bills realised by the householder. We are now two years into the programme and, suffice to say, there has been a slow uptake so far.
21/10/2014 The Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) reached its latest milestone recently with the publication of the first professional bodies approved to provide Lead Assessors. Organisations can now move forward and take the next steps towards compliance.
06/10/2014 One of the Foundation's Trustees, Liz Reason, looks at why the UK seems incapable of producing energy-efficient buildings, the need for a common language within the industry and the similarities between how much energy a building uses and how many miles per gallon a car achieves.
18/09/2014 At our President's Reception on 17 September, we launched our 'Working towards an energy-literate UK' programme. We announced a number of impactful 'big idea' projects to improve energy literacy and combat the issues raised in our recently-commissioned national energy survey.
01/08/2014 The Government has recently launched an Electricity Demand Reduction (EDR) Pilot Scheme. This is a new approach to saving energy in the UK, and is designed to combine more traditional energy efficiency measures with reductions in demand at peak periods – typically 4.00pm to 8.00pm in winter months.
25/07/2014 In my first blog, I talked about my experiences in the stages between first looking into having solar panels and eventually deciding to go ahead. I opted for a system supplied through one of the country’s best-known furniture and homewear stores and, in this blog, I talk about the next steps and preparing for installation day.
26/06/2014 I’ve had an interest in solar panels for a number of years and earlier this year I decided that the time was right to have them fitted at home. This is my first blog about my experiences of becoming an independent electricity generator.
30/04/2014 Collective switching schemes have been getting a lot of press coverage recently, partly on the back of Government support. The ‘Big Power Switch’ in Doncaster reckons to have saved 285 local residents a total of £80,500 with one saving a ‘massive £525’ after taking advantage of the scheme. All excellent news, you might think, especially for those in fuel poverty where saving money on energy bills undoubtedly relieves some of the financial pressure they’re under. However, saving £525 makes me wonder what the total bill was to start with, and whether there might have been other ways of reducing it that would last for a lot more than a single year.
15/04/2014 The National Energy Foundation is one of nine energy organisations working in partnership across England, Ireland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands to develop Ace, a transnational Academy of Champions for Energy. Ace is funded by the INTERREG IVB NWE programme and brings together public and private agencies to promote renewable energy and energy transition. By sharing and disseminating information through the academy, it is hoped that an increased uptake of renewable energy will be encouraged.
05/03/2014 Ian Byrne writes in the February issue of the environmental SCIENTIST journal. Energy is fundamental to modern life. We need it to heat our homes, power our iPads, cook our food, drive our cars and manufacture all the goods that we think are needed for life in the 21st century. Yet most people ignore energy until they see the gas or electricity bills or fill up with petrol. Little thought is given to why we use the amount of energy that we do, or where it comes from.
13/02/2014 At the end of last year, the Government found itself on the back foot following Ed Miliband’s promise to freeze household energy bills if Labour were to win the next general election. In the face of a parliamentary furore and intense pressure from some of the major media, the Coalition homed in on the ‘green levies’ element of domestic fuel bills and corresponding changes to the Energy Company Obligation (ECO).
30/10/2013 Our Chief Executive, Kerry Mashford, was invited to speak at the launch and in support of the Plumb Center (Wolseley) manifesto for a more energy conscious society at the House of Commons on 28 October. The manifesto urges behavioural change to reduce energy bills, and includes a number of wide-ranging recommendations on energy efficiency, water efficiency and training and accreditation. Here's what she said...
11/09/2013 Our Technical Director, Malcolm Hanna, discusses how and where to maximise energy efficiency improvements across a building stock portfolio - assessing where you are now, what the opportunities are, how big they might be and what to do next.
22/08/2013 In order to fulfil the UK’s obligation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050, it’s estimated that we need to carry out energy efficiency refurbishments on 700,000 properties per year, or at a rate of approximately 13,000 properties per week. Even without beginning to address the technical and logistical challenges this presents, it’s becoming increasingly clear that getting property owners and occupiers interested, let alone getting them to pay for improvements, is an (almost) insurmountable challenge.
09/08/2013 Why does the UK building industry find it difficult to achieve the improvements in energy use suggested by the energy performance trajectories in successive iterations of Part L of the Building Regulations?
22/07/2013 It’s a well-known saying that “in theory, theory and practice are the same - In practice, they aren’t”. The difference between actual and predicted energy use in both new and refurbished buildings is becoming indisputable. The size of this difference? Significant – typically at least 150-200% but often much greater. Yet the reasons for this difference are not widely understood.