cottage

Energy confidence

Join me, Phil Beardmore, on 5th October 2020 for the Green Homes Grant – Your Questions Answered webinar, in which you will learn about:

 

  • what is a heat pump and how does it work?
  • will a heat pump save money?
  • which insulation measures you can get through the Green Homes Grant?
  • how is solar thermal different from solar electricity?
  • what other energy saving products are available through the Green Homes Grant?
You will also find out:
  • who is eligible for the Green Homes Grant
  • what extra help is available to low-income homeowners
  • how thermal imaging can help spot where your home is wasting energy
  • what questions to ask an installer to make sure you are getting the energy saving products that you need, and not being mis-sold
  • how to work out if you are better off or not.
Plus there will be a Q&A session in which I will answer your questions on the Green Homes Grant.

The cost of attending this webinar is just £5.  This is to cover the cost of hosting the webinar on Zoom, and to get access to my many years of expertise.

 

 

About me

Grinning at Moor Street Station

 

I am the West Midlands’ leading expert in:

  • energy saving
  • renewable energy
  • procurement of energy saving products
  • water saving.

My customers include householders, landlords, public bodies, small businesses, charities and coops.

I am independent and impartial.

Phil Beardmore, FRSA AIEMA.

BOOK NOW

TESTIMONIALS

Nathalie Rush

Nathalie Rush

Phil is truly an expert in his field. I can understand why most people around the West Midlands choose to go to Phil for energy-saving consultancy. Phil has a thorough understanding of energy conservation and sustainable living. Would highly recommend.  Nathalie Rush, MD, Six Star Insulation.

Claire Spencer

Claire Spencer

His knowledge of community-led sustainability is second to none, and his perspective on local and national issues is invaluable to us. He adds value, and is everything a good consultant should be, and I would recommend him to anyone in our field  Claire Spencer, Sustainable Moseley.

Rosemary Coyne

Rosemary Coyne

It has been hugely inspiring to work with Phil.  While others talk, Phil gets on and does it.  Rosemary Coyne, Coordinator, Sustainable Housing Action Partnership

Ray Walker

Ray Walker

In working with Phil I have been impressed by his level of knowledge and enthusiasm. He has a vast array of contacts and has brought us into contact with other stakeholder in the energy business that would have been much more difficult to achieve without him. I am also struck by his commitment to supporting communities and the most vulnerable client groups.

Ray Walker, Disability Resource Centre

Karen McCarthy

Cllr Karen McCarthy

 

 

 

Phil Beardmore has a long association with Localise West Midlands and is a valued associate on environmental, housing and fuel poverty projects. 

He works with us both as an individual practitioner and leading multi-disciplinary teams on larger projects, delivering high quality results on time and on budget.

 Cllr Karen McCarthy, Localise West Midlands

By registering for this webinar, you agree that I can add your email address to my mailing list.  I will send you occasional emails, and won’t pass your email address on to anyone else.  You can unsubscribe at any time.  

sitting on sofa

 

The Green Homes Grant is a fantastic opportunity to reduce your household running costs and your greenhouse gas emissions.  Homeowners, and landlords, can apply for a voucher for two-thirds of the cost of eligible work, up to a maximum of £5,000.  Some low-income homeowners can get 100% funding up to a maximum of £10,000.

Every home is different, but there are some tips that everyone can follow:

  1. Where is your home wasting energy?  Most energy is usually wasted through the building fabric, mainly the walls and roof.  For this reason, you should start by using the Green Homes Grant for insulation measures such as roof insulation (including room-in-roof), cavity wall insulation, solid wall insulation, and under-floor heating.  These measures are eligible for the Green Homes Grant.  Thermal imaging is a good way of identifying how much heat is being lost through the building fabric. 
  2. No insulation without ventilation.  Most homes in the UK don’t have adequate ventilation, and this causes problems with air quality, and sometimes condensation and damp.  If you are adding insulation to your home, then it’s essential to add ventilation.  You can’t fund ventilation through the Green Homes Grant, which is a mistake in my view.  Ventilation can include air vents, low-energy extractor fans, or mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) which re-uses the heat from air passing in and out of your home.   
  3. Once you have insulated the walls and roof, then you could consider a form of renewable energy for heating your home, or hot water.  Heat pumps provide space heating, and some models can also heat your hot water.  Solar thermal is a simple and effective technology that uses the sun’s heat to pre-heat hot water for washing, reducing the amount of gas or electricity you need to use to heat water.   Biomass pellet boilers use wood pellets to provide space heating and hot water. All of these measures are eligible for the Green Homes Grant.
  4. Most homes in the UK are still using heating controls that were designed in the last century.  We are now two decades into the 21st Century and there have been great strides made in heating controls, including smart, remote controls that you can control with a smartphone or with household artificial intelligence gadgets.  Heating controls, along with thermostats, are eligible for the Green Homes Grant.
  5. If you have single glazed windows, then you can use the Green Homes Grant for double or triple glazing, or secondary glazing.  If you live in a conservation area and you aren’t allowed to install double glazing, then secondary glazing is a good way to increase thermal comfort.  This might be an option for people living in the Bournville area of Birmingham, for example, who aren’t allowed to replace their windows.
  6. Don’t make the mistake of having the same energy saving measures as one of your friends or neighbours.  Every home is different, and every household is different.  Putting the wrong energy saving measures in the wrong building can be an expensive mistake.  

If you need help deciding on how to use the Green Homes Grant, then I can give you impartial and personalised advice on what measures will give you the most cost-effective savings on fuel bills and greenhouse gas emissions for your home.  You will get a personalised advice report, and as an option, a thermal imaging report.  

If you’re a homeowner then book an energy advice package now so you can get on with your Green Homes Grant application.

If you’re a landlord or property manager then please contact me for a discussion about how I can work with you to decide what’s best for your property portfolio.  

 

 

learn more

thermal image

You can now get thermal imaging energy advice packages for your home or business, at a reduced price.  These packages are designed for people intending to apply for the Green Homes Grant, and include:

  • Expert coaching
  • Personalised advice
  • Action Planning help
  • Follow-up advice
  • Email support
  • Site visit with thermal imaging report.

 

  • What you’ll get:

    ✔ Site visit:  We work together to develop a  Climate Action Plan for your home or business.   Actions will include both short-term quick wins and longer-term environmental goals; ranging from zero-cost actions, to investments with a longer financial return, that will save you money too, and help you decide how to spend the Green Homes Grant.  This site visit will normally take around two hours.  This is included in your subscription if you are within 50 miles of Birmingham, UK.  If you are further than this, please contact meto discuss a bespoke quote, or go for one of my online coaching packages.

    ✔ Personalised Action Plan.  After this first session, I will provide you with a personalised draft report and Climate Action Plan including my recommendations. Your Climate Action Plan will include personalised tips for you and advice on how to monitor that your actions are making a difference, including an estimate of the percentage reduction in your carbon dioxide emissions.  At this stage I will also advise you of anything that you should not do, or that you should stop doing.  For householders, I will advise you of how you can use any grants, such as the Green Homes Grant, most effectively for your home.  

  • ✔ Thermography report, with thermal images showing where energy is being wasted in your building including walls, roof, windows, doors, floor, pipework.  The thermography report also includes recommendations on what can be done to address the issues highlighted by the thermal images.  Thermal imaging is usually carried out after dusk between November and March.  
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  •  ✔ Email support from me.
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  •  ✔ Session 2.  A follow-up coaching session at a mutually agreed time, usually 3-6 months after the home visit.  In this session we will review your progress, and discuss your next steps.   This session is around 30 minutes and will normally take place by Zoom.✔ Revisions to your Climate Action Plan as agreed at Session 2.If you haven’t used Zoom before then don’t worry, I will send you full instructions and tips.Things I will advise you on include:

    ✔  Energy Efficiency – quick wins that you can do now for zero-cost or low-cost; and long-term investments in your home or business.

    ✔ Is renewable energy right for your building?  Solar panels? Heat pumps? Biomass?

    ✔  Water saving – water waste is the hidden environmental cost that many people forget.  It’s easy to save water and if you are metered then it will save you money too.

    ✔  Green travel planning including electric vehicles.

    ✔   Energy tariffs and buying – are you on the best tariff?

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buy now

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  • Is there a “free” thermal imaging option?

    I don’t do a free thermal imaging package – this is why.  Some insulation companies do it – you don’t get an advice package with it.   With my advice packages you get the benefit of my time and expertise which you don’t with an insulation company. The insulation companies are funded by multinational energy companies to do thermal imaging, funded by energy bill payers. What you actually get is not simply a free thermal image – it’s a sales call to sell you insulation. I am in favour of people insulating their homes, but what I offer is a whole-house approach to energy saving.  If I recommend measures such as insulation to you as part of my energy advice package, then I will help you to find a reputable contractors for any physical measures such as insulation, heating, solar panels.  If you want a free thermal image then please feel free to book with one of these bill payer funded insulation companies – but please be aware you are not getting a full advice package and you will be getting a sales visit.  

     

    About me

    My goal is give you the confidence to control rising energy and water costs in your home or business.

    I give you the confidence to take action on energy saving that will make a lasting difference – to your financial bottom line, and to do your bit on climate change.  I specialise in energy saving, renewable energy, water saving, energy buying, and monitoring energy savings.

     

    Who am I?

    I founded Energy Confidence to help you feel that you are doing the right thing to save energy and water in your home or business.  I have two decades experience working in energy, and have won awards from Birmingham City Council and Sustainability West Midlands. I am an expert in energy saving, renewable energy, energy buying, water saving, and sustainable transport.  I’m a thought leader as well as an energy expert.  I have set up and delivered a wide range of energy-related projects.

     

    My values

    1. I am one of life’s doers.  I like to work out what to do next, and then get on and do it.
    2. If I see something that needs change, I will say it needs changing, and I will change it if I can.
    3. I deliver on my promises, on time and within budget.
    4. I don’t “chase the money”.
    5. I am not afraid to give bad news.  If I think it isn’t going to work, I will tell you, and suggest alternatives.
    6. I prefer cooperation over competition.  I want everyone to win at life.

    If you don’t have a PayPal account, you can pay by debit or credit card using PayPal.  Click on pay by card or checkout as a guest if invited. All services are subject to availability – I will endeavour to book you in at a mutually convenient date.

    What I will need from you is copies of your bills for gas, electricity, water and any other relevant fuels you use – e.g. heating oil, wood pellets.  Also an idea of your vehicle mileage if you want to include transport in your Climate Action Plan. Ideally I need your last 12 months’ bills.  This enables me to develop a baseline for your carbon dioxide emissions, so I can estimate how much carbon dioxide you will save through your action plan.  Once you have booked I will be in touch to ask you for these things.  Don’t worry if you can’t find them.

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sitting on sofa

 

 

It’s great news that the Chancellor has announced grant funding for homeowners to insulate their homes.  Insulation is one of the most important actions you can take to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.  If you’re thinking of upgrading the insulation in your home, here are my top tips for success.

 

  • In most homes, the greatest heat loss is through the walls, followed by the roof.  This means that insulating the walls is the top priority, followed by the roof.  
  • There are now many innovative insulation products available that can prevent heat loss from areas of your home such as solid walls, loft conversions, narrow roof and cellar spaces.  You can even get insulation that is made from natural materials such as cork and hemp.
  • When adding insulation to a home, extra ventilation is usually a good idea, to improve air quality.  This might be ventilation grilles, low-energy extractor fans, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, as well as making sure the insulation materials used are breathable.  
  • Choose an insulation contractor carefully.  Look for companies that are members of schemes such as the Cavity Wall Insulation Guarantee Agency, or the Solid Wall Insulation Guarantee Agency, or who have accreditations such as PAS2030 or Green Deal Approved.  
  • Insulation is best as part of a whole-house approach to energy saving.  My FREE workbook will help you to come up with a simple energy saving action plan for your home.  
  • Get independent advice on what are the most cost-effective energy saving measures for your home.  Sign up to one of my energy saving advice packages for impartial advice that is personalised for your home and your family.  

Top questions to ask an installer of insulation:

  1. Make sure they are going to insulate around the eaves of your loft.  A reputable contractor will do this.  A cowboy won’t bother.  Check that they have done it.
  2. Ask them about insulating the loft hatch, with a loft pillow.  Again, a reputable contractor will do this.  A cowboy won’t bother, and leave your home with heat escaping through the loft hatch.  
  3. Ask them about ventilation.  A reputable contractor will understand that upgrading insulation involves upgrading ventilation too.  A cowboy won’t be interested in the air quality in your home.
  4. Ask them what accreditations they have.

 

Don’t forget that most heat is lost through the walls, then the roof.  If you have a cellar, then underfloor insulation is also a good idea.  Double glazing is an important measure for sound insulation as well as giving some energy saving, but it is less cost-effective as an energy saving measure than wall or roof insulation.  

how heat is lost from a home

 

Read a case study of Nigel and Marta, who have added insulation and ventilation, as well as other energy saving measures, to their typical post-war Birmingham home.  They have achieved substantial and cost-effective fuel bill savings, as well as reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.  

 

Download my FREE energy and water saving workbook for your home and start your action plan straight away.

 

Download now

 

My home energy saving advice packages include expert advice on

  • choosing energy saving products and contractors
  • home visit (if you’re within 50 miles of Birmingham) or video coaching (especially valuable if you’re shielding)
  • thermal imaging option

You can pay by subscription if you prefer.

 

 

Feel free to read my FAQs.  

workbook

workbook

“Consumers want to buy from ethical and sustainable businesses.  Going green shows your customers that you care, and makes them want to buy from you”

FREE workbook

 

Download my FREE energy saving workbook for your business or non-profit.  This is an easy-to-use, self-help workbook that you can use to make a personalised action plan for your business. 

 

The workbook is based on the actual methodology that I use when I am on a site visit to a paying client.  Most importantly, the workbook encourages you to do things in the right order and helps you to understand which actions will make most difference.

Download now
 
Nigel and Marta

Nigel and Marta moved to Birmingham from Nottingham in 2017 after buying a home that is typical of many suburban areas of Birmingham.  Both were committed to making the home as low carbon as possible, and had previously been involved in the Meadows eco-neighbourhood in Nottingham.  They started by improving the fabric of the building, with additional insulation to the walls, roof and floor; adding additional glazing, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, and solar panels.  These measures have reduced the home’s carbon dioxide emissions per square metre by 51%.  The measures they have adopted could be used on thousands of post-war suburban homes in Birmingham and beyond.  Nigel and Marta’s home is now warmer and more comfortable with better air quality, and their fuel bills are lower.  

The home was built in the 1950s as a four-bedroomed end terrace, with a floor area of 112 square metres.  When Nigel and Marta bought the home, it already had cavity wall insulation and double glazing, as most similar homes will already have.  

The downstairs solid floor had been built  on hardcore using an unusual material – ‘red ash’ waste from a power station . This is no longer acceptable practice as  red ash expands and attacks concrete when it gets wet. All the downstairs floors therefore  needed to be replaced.  This meant that Nigel and Marta could have underfloor heating for the ground floor rather than radiators, and also that they also added extra insulation to the floor, below the underfloor heating pipework.  Many people overlook the fact that heat can escape from a house through the floor.  While the walls and roof are the most obvious places for heat to escape, heat can transfer downwards as well as upwards, escaping to the ground or to a cellar below.  Floor insulation, either by insulating below the floor in the cellar, or by replacing a solid floor and including a layer of insulation, can be a very effective energy saving measure.

Although the home already had cavity wall insulation, loft insulation and double glazing, they had experienced the transformation achieved by external wall insulation added to their Nottingham home. This improves insulation, disguises the appearance of tired brickwork and eliminates  many of the thermal bridges in the building, which allow  heat to escape.  A thermal bridge is a an area or component of a house which has lower thermal insulation than the surrounding materials, creating a path of least resistance through which heat can escape.  It was to reduce heat loss and prevent thermal bridging that Nigel and Marta decided to have external wall insulation, even though the home already had cavity wall insulation.  

Loft extensions are one of the most popular ways for people to increase the living space in their home.  Converting the loft was also a chance for Nigel and Marta to add extra insulation to the roof.  Along with external wall insulation and triple glazing the new windows, roof insulation helped to complete the thermal blanket around the whole building.  

Most homes in the UK do not have adequate ventilation.  There is a difference between draughts and ventilation.  Draughts are unwanted, uncontrolled movements of air.  Ventilation is planned and controlled movement of air, to ensure air quality.  Lack of ventilation leads to poor air quality, and exacerbates problems of condensation and damp leading to mould – all caused by excessive moisture production in the home and inadequate heating.  Nigel and Marta decided to add more ventilation to their home.  This is a very good move when adding insulation, to ensure there are enough air changes to ensure good air quality and avoid either condensation and damp in winter, or overheating in summer.  They went for a mechanical ventilation with heat recovery system (MVHR) which exchanges heat from the stale exhaust air with the cold fresh air that it draws in from outside, so that the exhaust air is cooled and the incoming fresh air is warmed. This uses a very small amount of energy to pump a continuous, silent, constant background ventilation that retains the heat that is used to keep the home warm.  

The home already had a condensing gas boiler and basic heating controls but a new condensing gas boiler was installed with additional smart heating controls to supply the 3 zones of underfloor heating and the 3 shower/bath rooms.  

 Low energy LED lighting has been fitted throughout the home – to make sure precious electricity is not wasted. 16 Solar electricity (photovoltaic) panels were installed, enough to supply almost a quarter as much again as the home’s annual electricity requirement. However most of this is during the summer when consumption is lowest and generation is highest. During the nights and especially during the other 3 seasons, because they work long hours and from home, they actually import three quarters of their consumption from the grid. So they are currently investigating using batteries to supply their electricity, and only draw from the grid in the early hours of the morning when it is cheapest. 

Nigel and Marta are currently working with researchers from the University of Birmingham to see if a ground source heat pump could provide space heating to theirs and neighbouring homes. 

After the work was complete, Nigel and Marta commissioned a thermal imaging survey.  This showed how effective the insulation had been in reducing heat loss.  It also showed some additional areas that needed insulating, to block cold bridges, including the roof of a bay window, and also the walls below the damp-proof course.  

After all the work was complete, Nigel and Marta commissioned a thermographic survey.  The thermal images showed:

  • The external wall insulation was successfully preventing heat loss from the home
  • The triple glazed windows showed less heat loss than the neighbour’s insulated cavity walls in the rest of the building
  • There were, as expected, cold bridges below the damp-proof course and above the downstairs bay window.  Nigel and Marta are now considering insulating these areas.  

 

Nigel and Marta are now working with other local residents to set up Acocks Greener, a community group that will help reduce Acocks Green’s carbon dioxide emissions as a neighbourhood.  

What Nigel and Marta have done with their home could be copied by others with post-war homes, including:

  • External wall insulation is more expensive than cavity wall insulation but gives better heat loss prevention – this is particularly important if we are to reduce carbon emissions due to gas-fired central heating or even to move beyond gas for heating, as heat pumps need very high levels of insulation
  • Most homes are under-ventilated; mechanical ventilation with heat recovery gives excellent air quality with low heat loss and running costs
  • Under-floor insulation should not be overlooked as it gives additional heat loss prevention over and above wall and roof insulation.

The West Midlands Combined Authority and many local and parish councils are publishing exciting and ambitious plans to tackle the climate emergency.  What Nigel and Marta have done with their home shows us the scale of the challenge we face to make our homes low carbon, but Nigel and Marta have also shown us an exemplar that can be replicated to many post-war suburban homes.  

(for www.energyconfidence.co.uk only) If you need help with making your home or business low-carbon, then please take a look at my energy saving advice packages.

Scavenger

Are you looking for fun home education activities to do with the kids during lockdown?  Why not use my FREE activity to plan how your family can take action on the Climate Emergency now?

Continue reading “Energy saving scavenger hunt – FREE home education activity”

How heat is lost from an office building

Even if your business is closed during Lockdown, you can still plan what your business will do to take action on the Climate Emergency.  And while you’re at home, you can start taking action in your home or with your neighbours.  Continue reading “What can I do about the Climate Emergency during Lockdown?”

all male panel bingo

 

 

Thank you for inviting me to speak at your conference.  

The year is 2020 and the voices of women are still not being heard.  That’s why, if I’m asked to appear on an all-male platform at a conference, I will have to say no.  

Continue reading “Why I won’t appear on an all-male panel”