Eco building

Temperature control

posted 14 Feb 2010, 01:05 by Toby Roscoe   [ updated 14 Feb 2010, 01:13 ]

The room and water heating systems in your home or business are the most intensive uses of energy in your control. This means that it is essential to manage them intelligently in order to save energy, reduce bills and emissions of greenhouse gasses. 

There are various types of energy management system available, but in the past people have often opted for the cheapest upfront cost without considering that a superior system will pay for itself many times over through its lifetime. This is especially the case as energy costs continue to rise dramatically. 

thermostat is a device for regulating the temperature of a system so that the system's temperature is maintained near a desired setpointtemperature. The name is derived from the Greek words thermos "hot" and statos "a standing". The thermostat does this by switching heating or cooling devices on or off, or regulating the flow of a heat transfer fluid as needed, to maintain the correct temperature.

A thermostat may be a control unit for a heating or cooling system or a component part of a heater or air conditioner. Thermostats can be constructed in many ways and may use a variety of sensors to measure the temperature. The output of the sensor then controls the heating or cooling apparatus.

The first electric room thermostat was invented in 1883 by Warren S. Johnson.

Common sensor technologies include:

Thermostatic radiator valve, a self-regulating valve fitted to hot water heating system radiators. The TRV controls the temperature of a room by regulating the flow of hot water to the radiator. Thermostatic radiator valves (air vent valves) also exist for steam radiators.

Double glazing

posted 14 Feb 2010, 01:01 by Toby Roscoe

Installing double glazing can cut heat loss through windows by half. If you can't afford to replace all the windows, why not choose the rooms that cost you the most to heat?

::  How it works ::

Double glazing works by trapping air between two panes of glass creating an insulating barrier that reduces heat loss, noise and condensation.

:: The savings ::

Double glazing cuts heat lost through windows by half and can save £80 - £100 a year on your heating bills. Double glazing, can save a household about three quarters of a tonne of CO2 a year.

:: How the savings add up ::

If everyone in the UK who needed double glazing fitted it we'd save the equivalent of 800,000 households' CO2 emissions

Email us or visit the Energy Saving Trust for more details.


posted 14 Feb 2010, 00:55 by Toby Roscoe   [ updated 14 Feb 2010, 01:00 ]

Insulation acts as a resistor tot he transfer of heat. Like a blanket, trapping heat rising from the house below. 

This diagram from the Energy Saving Trust shows the the losses of heat from the typical home. Insulation slows the rate of heat loss, meaning that you need to use less energy to maintain a constant temperature in your home.

The savings

If you currently have no loft insulation and you install the recommended 270mm depth you could save around £110 a year on your heating bills and nearly 1 tonne of CO2 per year.

The following table gives approximate costs, savings and paybacks for loft insulation:


How the savings add up

If everyone in the UK topped up their loft insulation to 270mm, £380m would be saved each year. That's enough money to pay the annual fuel bills of over 400,000 families.

Email us or visit the Energy Saving Trust for more details.

Insulating your loft cavity requires safety equipment such as dust mask, 
goggles and overalls.

Building Design: Passive Solar

posted 13 Feb 2010, 23:56 by Toby Roscoe   [ updated 14 Feb 2010, 00:08 ]

Passive solar design uses solar access, geometry of the window areas   and thermal mass to maintain interior temperatures at comfortable levels throughout the Sun's daily and annual cycles, with very little input required from active heating and cooling systems. Passive solar design is an intelligent use of natural energy resources that must be incorporated into the planning and development stages of the building project. 

Coupled with the correct insulation and other efficient building materials, such as low-e glass, passive solar massively reduces a building’s dependance upon fossil fuels for heating, cooling and lighting and has consequent reductions in greenhouse gas emission.

Passive solar building design is one part of green building design principles, but does not include active systems such as mechanical ventilation or photovoltaics (solar electric). If a passive solar building is fitted with a renewable energy system, then it is possible for its energy balance to be positive, that is excess energy may be sold back to a utility company and renewable energy certificates (RECs) may be generated.

Passive Solar technologies convert sunlight into usable heat (water, air, thermal mass), cause air-movement for ventilating, or future use, with little use of other energy sources. A common example is a solarium on the equator-side of a building. Passive cooling is the use of the same design principles to reduce summer cooling requirements.

Technologies that use a significant amount of conventional energy to power pumps or fans are active solar technologies. Some passive systems use a small amount of conventional energy to control dampers, shutters, night insulation, and other devices that enhance solar energy collection, storage, use, and reduce undesirable heat transfer.

Passive solar technologies include direct and indirect solar gain for space heating, solar water heating systems based on the thermosiphon, use of thermal mass and phase-change materials for slowing indoor air temperature swings, solar cookers, the solar chimney for enhancing natural ventilation, and earth sheltering. More widely, passive solar technologies include the weiner solar furnace and solar forge, but these typically require some external energy for aligning their concentrating mirrors or receivers, and historically have not proven to be practical or cost effective for wide-spread use. 'Low-grade' energy needs, such as space and water heating, have proven, over time, to be better applications for passive use of solar energy.


Self build resources

posted 7 Feb 2010, 09:23 by Toby Roscoe   [ updated 13 Feb 2010, 22:58 ]

Self build homes account for around 13 percent – over 20,000 of all residential properties built in the UK each year.
People are starting to embrace green selfbuild as they see the benefits for the environment and for energy costs.

The methods for green buildings include using sustainable wood sources, natural energy sources, passive solar design and increased thermal performance. 

Timber frames produced by local sustainable sources are one of the greenest building materials. Currently just 12% of UK homes are timber framed. 

Here are some alternative styles of building:

Earthships - developed in the USA, and now over here in the UK, earthships use tyres and bottles, to make amazing buildings. 

Strawbale building
 - this style of building has become increasingly popular due to cheap and sustainable building materials. 

The Yurt - a more mobile approach to living, the yurt is becoming a easy build alternative, either as a temporary or a structured dwelling. 

Walter Segal pioneered his wooden kit form of self build, useful for community groups. 

Geodomes - Buckminster Fuller was the architect who championed the geodome, many 60's and 70's geodomes are the foundation of selfbuild.

To make a suggestion, please add a comment below.

Building materials:
Papercrete - use of paper
Green building materials
Green store
The lime centre - lime 
Precious earth - paint
Eco paints - general overview

selfbuild abc - green building

Natural building technologies


thesustainablebuildingdirectory - energy savings trust

The Green Register - Is a training and networking organisation for construction. 

Other Innovative projects:
Green houses to buy

Hockerton Housing Project

Nottingham Eco House

BedZED - The Zero Emissions Development (ZED) project

Sherwood Energy Village transforming a 91-acre former colliery into an environmental

Radical Routes - housing co-operatives info

BBC 3 Guerrilla homes - How to build a home on a budget. 

Greenlight Construction
Aims to increase the use, awareness and acceptance of holistic and sustainable building methods, materials and processes.

Sustainable build information

Low Energy Lighting

posted 7 Feb 2010, 09:22 by Toby Roscoe   [ updated 14 Feb 2010, 01:14 ]

The technology behind low energy lighting has has moved on a lot over the last  few years, and so has the way they look. In fact, whatever type of bulbs you use to light your home, office, or factory, there is an energy saving equivalent that is stylish and provides the quality and temperature of light you are looking for. 

The most common type of energy saving light bulbs, called Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs for short), use up to 80% less electricity than a standard bulb, but produce the same amount of light. This is possible because a standard light bulb converts only about 20% of the energy it uses to light, 80% is wasted as heat. CFLs typically pay for themselves in just a few months.

Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs for short - picture right) are revolutionising fashionable downlighting for domestic and commercial applications. Many people confuse ‘low voltage’ with ‘low energy’. Ceiling mounted downlights use a stepdown transformer to convert 220 volt (or 110 volt in North in some places) alternating current (normal mains power) to 12 volt direct current (similar to vehicle electric systems). This process is inherently inefficient as the transformer wastes energy as heat. The 12V halogen bulbs in the socket also waste 80-90% of the energy they use as heat. 

LED downlights, however, are 90-95% efficient as they stay very cool, and are efficient at turning electricity into light. Because they use very small quantities of energy, the number of transformers can be reduced, making an ongoing energy saving for every transformer removed from the system.

The summary is that low energy lighting can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the lighting component of your energy bill by 80 to 90%. They save you money, fight climate change and show people that you care about the future, all in one wise purchase. 

More from Wikipedia on CFL's:

compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), also known as a compact fluorescent light or energy saving light (or less commonly as a compact fluorescent tube [CFT]), is a type of fluorescent lamp. Many CFLs are designed to replace an incandescent lamp and can fit into most existing light fixtures formerly used for incandescents.

Compared to general service incandescent lamps giving the same amount of visible light, CFLs use less power and have a longer rated life. In the United States, a CFL has a higher purchase price than an incandescent lamp, but can save over 30 US$ in electricity costs over the lamp's life time.[2]Like all fluorescent lamps, CFLs contain mercury, which complicates their disposal.

CFLs radiate a different light spectrum from that of incandescent lamps. Improved phosphor formulations have improved the subjective color of the light emitted by CFLs such that some sources rate the best 'soft white' CFLs as subjectively similar in color to standard incandescent lamps.[3]

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