July 2019  From Changeworks / Home Energy Scotland July newsletter

Creating an energy-efficient home

"Who among us hasn’t fantasised about building our dream house, overlooking the beach, and cutting our carbon footprint at the same time? Well for Changeworks’ Jo Hobbett, Change Works in Burntisland Senior Project Officer, she and her partner Alan made that a reality.

"Over the past three and a half years, Jo and Alan have been pouring all their spare time into a new home. Built in the garden of their previous house, an old Victorian tearoom, their new home is an energy-efficient oasis of calm down by the beach on the Fife riviera."

Read Jo and Alan's story


August 2018

Changeworks / Home Energy Scotland ventilation advice

With temperatures starting to cool, download our popular resources to help you keep your home ventilated and avoid condensation and damp:

What is condensation and damp? What you can do to stop them happening

Managing condensation (video)

Airing your home using windows and advanced extractor fans

Operating your built in ventilation system


January  2018

Energy conservation for kids

We have had an email from a mother and daughter in America, Amy and Peyton Clarkson, who are interested in conservation and say they were excited to discover the TBI website.  Peyton, who is a scout, working towards earning her Green Badge, and according to Amy "..has always been passionate about bettering the earth", has suggested we might like to put up a link to an 'Energy Conservation for Kids' website, which has lots of suggestions about how young people can help save energy at home, and links to a large number of other sites offering information on a wide range of energy conservation topics.  Much of the information naturally has an American slant, but it is still well worth looking at -  for conservation-minded kids and the rest of us as well.  Here is the link


How can I save energy at home?

Dave Greer writes about installing infrared heating in his North Kessock home.

“The Future of Heating!” That was the title of the article which unexpectedly caught my eye earlier this year. (2017)

My wife and I had been seeking advice on potential heating methods for our house to augment our trusty but antiquated solid fuel stove fed central heating system. We had become used after 30+ years in the Highlands and old cottages, to lighting a fire of some kind before heat was available in our various homes. This is fine, but as one gets older the novelty of coming in after a day’s work to a freezing house and the task of lighting a stove before any heat is available wears off!

Read about Dave's infrared heating installation.


Julian Paren has lots of suggestions!  See his presentation called Energy in the Home: Trying to save my 20%


Emily Thomson writes about installing a multifuel stove, and the benefits it brought.


How draught-proof is your house?

by Martin Sherring, TBI energy convener.

Everyone knows they should improve the insulation in their houses, but draught-proofing tends to be taken for granted. Even the phrase “draught-proofing” brings up images of draught excluders made out of old stockings and rolled-up newspapers, and maybe we all think we’ve got beyond that. But, even in new houses, it’s quite possible for up to half of heat losses to be due to ventilation.

I was shocked to discover that, in a well-sealed living space, the normal assumption is that all the air is replaced due to draughts every hour – so all the hot air being produced by your central heating needs to be replaced every hour. The situation is even worse if you have an open fire-place – in that case you can expect the air in the room to be changed five times an hour. And comfort isn’t just about temperature – even a relatively warm draught feels uncomfortable, and the easy answer is to turn up the thermostat and burn more fuel.

So, what can be done about it?

Well, it seems like the first thing to do is to block the chimney – a chimney balloon is cheap and does the trick, what’s more it can be deflated and removed for the times you want a fire.

After that, it depends on your house and whether the leaks are obvious. If not, the easiest way of tracking them down is with smoke. There are specialist smoke pellets, but these are really designed for tracking down faults in flues, and they produce more smoke than you probably want in the living room. Alternatives are joss-sticks, or if that sounds too 60’s, a snuffed out candle – but don’t forget to disable your smoke alarm before you start.

Windows and doors are likely culprits, and there are various rubber and foam strips available to reduce the problem – but if the gaps are big, then more serious joinery work may be called for. Letter boxes are maybe less obvious problems – wall-mounted external boxes are better, but if you already have a letter box, consider one of those internal boxes to keep the dog away from the post. Cat-flaps are difficult too – in the days when we had cats, we never found a solution to that one, but if any reader can help, let us know.

Once you’ve dealt with the obvious gaps, check out the junctions at the top and bottom of skirting boards, between door/ window frames and walls, and around pipes into the house – for electricity, water, overflows, in fact anywhere there’s a joint or a hole. Suitable materials for sealing the gaps are decorators caulk or expanding foam.

But don’t forget that we do need ventilation.

Most houses these days have extractor fans which remove moist air from bathrooms and kitchens, and the more the other gaps are blocked up, the more we need these. In other rooms, trickle ventilation from window frames is normal, and if you have a boiler or stove in the room, normally there will be a vent to ensure it gets enough air. Don’t block any of these!

The motto for newly built houses should be “Build tight, ventilate right” – so we get the ventilation when we want it, where we want it. Mostly though, especially in older houses, the amount of ventilation depends on how windy it is, so even if it’s the right amount on still days, the draughts whip around our ankles when the wind gets up. So, even with older houses, we should be taking back control and getting rid of the draughts.


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