Arcola Energy, part of the Arcola Theatre in Dalston, has been successful in winning funding under a Department of Energy and Climate Change project called the Local Energy Assessment Fund (LEAF).

The Dalston Energy Angels project involves running home energy audits, conducting thermal imaging surveys and building up a waste wood supply network for the Arcola’s biomass boiler which will be installed later this year.

There will be a particular emphasis on working with people in fuel poverty and engaging a diverse range of Hackney residents around Dalston.

If you are interested in finding out more or volunteering to help out with this exciting new project then please come along to the launch event at the Arcola Theatre on Ashwin Street near Dalston Junction on Wednesday 29th February from 5 to 7pm.

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** Important Update Below**

**Second Update Below**

It’s now looking increasingly likely that the Government will make a substantial cut in the feed in tariff (FIT) starting from next financial year.

It’s absolutely right that the FIT for solar photovoltaics should be cut because there has been a big reduction in prices over the last year or so and this should be reflected in the incentive, but there’s a real chance that the cut will be considerably bigger than this drop.

Whatever happens, if you’ve been thinking about installing solar PV on your roof then now is the time to do it. If you are interested in going ahead with it then please get in touch because we’ve hooked up with a local installation company which is offering very competitive rates.

As ever you should also be thinking seriously about reducing your energy demand as far as possible in parallel with installing microgeneration. There are lots of tips on this blog so please take the time to have a look around. If you have any particular queries then feel free to drop us a line.


There are suggestions that the reduction in Feed In Tariff could come as soon as the 8th December. A system would need to be installed, commissioned and registered for the FIT by that date. If correct then this means that there is very little time left.


The government has published the proposals for the revision of the FIT tariffs. The proposed tariff reduction will be from 43.3p/kWh to 21p/kWh. The proposed cut off date is the 12th December rather than the 8th but that still gives very little time.

Also proposed is a minimum level of household energy efficiency in order to be eligible for the FIT. This last point makes a lot of sense as energy efficiency measures should be adopted before microgeneration, but it could make a lot of homes in Stoke Newington ineligible if an Energy Performance Certificate rating of C or above is adopted.

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Solar Water Heating Trial Results

by admin on October 15, 2011

The Energy Saving Trust has published the results of a solar water heating trial. There are some interesting findings which I’ve excerpted here:

Summary of key findings

1. Solar water heating systems have the potential to work well in the UK and the Republic of Ireland when installed properly and controlled adequately by the user.

2. From the properties we trialled, well-installed and properly used systems provided around 60 per cent of a household’s hot water. The trial also found examples where systems were not properly configured or used, and where the contribution from solar was as low as 9 per cent. The median across all systems was 39 per cent.

3. Householders in the trial were happy with their solar water heating systems: 84 per cent were “satisfied” with their system, and over 50 per cent were “very satisfied”.

4. In the field trial, there was little difference between the total solar energy yield of those installations that used flat-plate solar collectors and those that used evacuated-tube solar collectors.

5. The trial found that the way householders use their solar water heating system is critical in achieving the best results from solar water heating systems. Better advice to users on how to control their solar water heating systems (in terms of volume of hot water use, timing of back-up heating and hot water use, and temperatures required) is essential.

6. Where mains electricity provided power to the pumps and controllers of systems in the trial, the amount of energy used was generally small compared with the overall heat delivered.

7. We observed insufficient insulation installed on some hot water storage cylinders and pipes. This significantly reduced the proportion of hot water their solar water heating systems provided.

8. Industry standards should be reviewed to ensure they reflect the findings of the trial and the need for better advice to customers.

9. Solar water heating systems can achieve savings on energy bills. Based on the results of the trial, typical savings from a well-installed and properly used system are £55/year when replacing gas and £80/year when replacing electric immersion heating; however, savings will vary from user to user.

10. A well-installed and properly used solar water heating system is likely to provide carbon savings. The typical savings are 230kg/year when replacing gas and 510kg/year when replacing electric immersion heating.

If you’re thinking of going for solar water heating then it’s worth checking out the report. EST also published a similar report on their heat pump trials a while back.

Renewable heat sources are expected to be supported by the Renewable Heat Incentive (which will be similar to the Feed In Tariff for electricity generating microgen) but there have been many delays to its launch and it is currently uncertain exactly when it might come into effect.

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The North London Eco House Weekend is back once again with a cracking line up of homes to see on the weekend of the 11th – 12th June.

If you’re thinking of undertaking an eco renovation of your home then this is a great opportunity to see what others are doing and to speak to the people who did it.

Tickets are a very reasaonable £10 for the whole weekend (£20 if you’re a building professional). More information can be found here:

Building on the success of last year’s Eco House Weekend, on 11th – 12th June, 15 Victorian and Edwardian houses will be opening their doors to the public.

Situated in the neighbouring boroughs of Camden, Islington, Haringey and Hackney, they exemplify the best in recent eco- renovation practice and techniques. Owners will share their experiences and offer guidance and advice on how you too can join the movement to cut car- bon emissions in your home by 60% and more. Find out about the simple steps you can take to make an impact on even the oldest of properties. We invite you to come along – and be inspired.


  • Most of the houses are open: AM: 10-1pm and / or PM: 2-5pm
  • Tours are hourly, on the hour.


  • A weekend pass to view all the houses costs £10 for homeowners / £20 for professionals
  • Purchase your pass here (you can use Paypal or credit card.)

For more information about the houses, head on over to the VICTERI website.


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Chris at London Transition has posted a lovely review highlighting some of the things that have been going on in London this year. It makes me very happy to see all of these exciting projects springing up – inspiring stuff for sure:

For many 2010 started with a sense that the best remedy for global, instituional paralysis is local, grass roots action, and the year has seen much new interest in Transition-style approaches in the capital both, in official Transition Towns initiatives and in like minded Low Carbon Communities and Climate Action Networks. Many new groups were formed, there was continued growth in the size and ambition of activities and and many firsts.

Read on….

I couldn’t agree more. If there’s one thing that’s really hit home in the last year, it’s that real change  is only going to happen from the bottom up.

It’s been a busy and very fun year at Transition Town Stoke Newington with three new projects launched in the form of Hackney Harvest, the Stokey branch of the Hackney Bike Workshop and Inclusive Transition as well as RefurbN16 continuing to bumble along quite nicely.

We’re always on the look out for fresh ideas for projects and enthusiastic people to get stuck in to make them happen so get in contact if you want to lend a hand. Or even better, come along to the Hackney Bike Workshop party this Saturday for a proper celebration.

Onwards and upwards for 2011!

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We’re looking into the potential of gathering together groups of Hackney households wishing to install solar photovoltaic panels on their roofs.

The Feed in Tariff, which launched last year, offers a guaranteed payment of 41p for each unit of electricity generated by a home solar photovoltaic installation for a period of 25 years, which has greatly improved the economics of buying solar PV.

A typical 2kW installation would earn around £800 per year in saved electricity and revenue from the feed in tariff, paying for itself in around 8 to 10 years. The annual CO2 saving would be nearly 1 tonne, equivalent to about 20% of the carbon emissions due to gas and electricity consumption in a typical Hackney home.

By getting together as a group we can negotiate a better deal with an installer, reducing the up-front costs and getting you a better return.  If you have been thinking about investing in solar electricity generation then this is a very good opportunity to get a good deal, so please drop us a line if you want to find out more.

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Some interesting research was published over the summer (and reported in the Independent) which suggests that the impact of electricity savings on carbon emissions is a lot larger than previously thought.

It’s a little bit technical, but I’ll try and summarise it as clearly as I can – if you have any questions please post in the comments below.

This paper looks at the UK electricity grid’s carbon emissions factors over an 8 year period. An emissions factor is used to calculate the emissions generated by consuming a quantity of energy. It’s a very simple calculation:

Energy (kWh) x Carbon Factor (kgCO2/kWh) = CO2 Emissions (kgCO2)

By way of example, the average house consumes about 3,900kWh of electricity each year and the UK average electricity carbon factor is 0.543kgCO2/kWh so the CO2 emissions generated by electricity consumption in the average UK home amounts to 2,100kg or 2.1 tonnes of CO2.

In the above calculation I used the Average Emissions Factor which is published by Defra and is calculated by adding up all of the emissions generated by all of our power stations and dividing by the total amount of electricity generated (less 7% to take into account the losses which you get when you distribute the electricity through the national grid).

However there is another emissions factor which is the Marginal Emissions Factor. This is a measure of the emissions which are generated in response to a change in demand on the electricity grid and it’s this factor which was calculated to be about 60% higher than previously assumed and 30% higher than the average emissions factor.

In an electricity supply system, supply has to be precisely matched to demand so there is always a group of electricity generators and power stations which are being tweaked up and down or switched on and off in order to match the variations in demand over the course of a day.

If the grid wasn’t monitored 24/7 and supply wasn’t adjusted to match demand, it would lead to instabilities. If there’s too little supply it can lead to black outs and if there is too much supply it can lead to generators tripping and shutting down. A measure of this balance between supply and demand is the grid frequency which you can see live here.

There are three main types of generators in an electricity supply network – base load, peaking and load following. A base load generator is one that churns away at a constant rate for hours or days at a time, a peaking plant will be switched on just for the peak periods to cover the higher electricity demand, and a load following plant is quickly adjusted up and down to follow short term fluctuations in demand.

So when you turn on your washing machine or switch on your lights when you get home, somewhere a generator has to work a little bit harder to deliver that electricity to your home. If enough people turn on their washing machine at the same time then a whole new generator might have to be switched on and this is the marginal supply that the Marginal Emissions Factor refers to.

These marginal generators that respond to fluctuations in demand are in general less efficient and dirtier than the base load and peaking generators and this means that they have higher emissions.

So if you want to cut your carbon emissions easily and cheaply, really hit those electricity saving behavioural measures hard (I’ve written about standby and fridge freezer temperatures so far but there are many more to come) and make sure your lighting is as efficient as possible.

Also if you can manage it without annoying your neighbours, try and defer as much electricity consumption, especially energy intensive actions like running the washing machine, to the night time as both the average and marginal emission factors are lower at night than during the day.

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On Saturday 6th November we are organising a little get together for people working on community energy efficiency projects in  London.

The idea of the afternoon is to meet each other, find out what we’re all up to, and see if there are any ways in which we can collaborate and support each other.

Chris Bird, author of the new book Local Sustainable Homes, has kindly agreed to come and talk to us, along with members of Smart Energy Coop who are exploring ways of deploying microgeneration on a wider scale.

It promises to be a fun and stimulating afternoon so if you’re interested in finding out a bit more about what other people are doing in community energy efficiency projects in London,  please come along!

More info can be found here and if you are interested in coming along, please fill in the form so that we have an idea of numbers.

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Doesn’t that just trip off the tongue?

Mark Sunday 10th October in your diaries for a global day of climate action and in Dalston Arcola Green Sundays are organising a day of ‘entertainment and inspiration for the ecologically curious’.

Events kick off at the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden from 1.30pm and continue at the new Arcola site on Ashwin Street from 4.30.

Activities including a Give & Take event organised by Forest Recycling Project, bike MOTs, delicious food (including locally picked fruit courtesy of Hackney Harvest), a screening of No Impact Man, live music, Carbon Conversations and lots more! We’ll be there offering home energy advice including draught proofing tips as well.

Click here or check out the flyer for more info and hope to see you there!

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The Guardian is today reporting that the energy suppliers are ripping people off when it comes to replacement boilers.

After a freedom of information request the data from the boiler scrappage scheme was released covering nearly 120,000 boiler installations. The scrappage scheme ran in the first half of the year, offering a £400 subsidy for the replacement of G rated boilers with A rated condensing boilers.

These figures showed that on average energy suppliers were charging a third more than local independent installers. As the average cost of a boiler is around £2,300 this means that the energy suppliers are charging about £800 more than independent installers. But across England the discrepancy varies considerably. In the West Midlands the energy suppliers have been charging a staggering £3,600 on average compared with the £2,250 charged by local installers – 60% more.

The article doesn’t say as much but chief amongst them will doubtless be British Gas, the largest installer of boilers in the country, as there has long been anecdotal evidence that British Gas were overcharging their customers.

It is also worth pointing out that the energy suppliers were charging these exorbitant prices under a taxpayer-supported incentive scheme – no doubt this was a handy boost to their £585m  profits in the first half of 2010, 98% higher than the same period in 2009.

My advice is to stay well clear of energy suppliers when replacing your boiler. Ask friends for recommendations of local installers and obtain multiple quotes.

A fully installed replacement boiler should cost around the £2,200 to £2,500 mark. Go for an A rated condensing boiler and in order to maximise the savings you should make sure the installer flushes the heating system to remove any gunk and restore the efficiency of the radiators. An inhibitor which prevents build up of deposits in the heating system should also be added and a full set of heating controls is required with all boiler replacements.

Check out the other posts on boilers for more information.

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