Archive for October, 2013

Introduction to Energy Watch Articles

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What can we do to offset rising energy costs?

Other than hassling our political representatives it’s unlikely one can do much about the cost of petrol and diesel but there is a lot you can do to reduce the cost of running your home and you can do even more if you’re lucky enough to be building a new home.

Over the next few issues, are going to put a few ideas to you that we hope will help to reduce those energy bills.  A lot of what we set out will be just common sense but we will advise you of the latest technical solutions and point out some of the many pitfalls.

Clearly a new build is a great opportunity to reduce your future energy bills to a very low level and we will give advice on the many aspects that you should consider when starting to build, such as site selection, heating methods and life style changes. However, no matter how many new homes we build over the next decade or two, that number will be dwarfed by the number of existing houses, many of which have been built prior to the 1973 oil crisis with very little concern for energy usage.

As money is a main driver, we are leaving aside such minor matters as global warming, rising sea levels and the expansion of the deserts and we will relate all our advice to “value for money”.  Some solutions such as reducing the number and size of north facing windows on a new house or insulating your existing attic are not huge costs and have a relatively straightforward and short term payback, (the time taken to recover the money you spent on the work in the form of savings in your energy bills).  Others, such as triple glazing a new house or insulated external plaster to an existing house, take a bit more consideration.  We will let you know what grants are available on energy saving measures and, will also hope to throw in a little education.  What’s the difference between a “Passive House” and a “Zero Carbon” house?  What is “geo-thermal” and how does it work?

We would also invite any readers to send in questions they may have and we’ll do our best to answer them based on our experience.

Some of the topics we will be covering over the next articles are

  • the effects of lifestyle on your bills
  • insulation and cold bridging
  • ventilation and air tightness
  • rain water harvesting
  • grants
  • the Passive Haus
  • retrofitting
  • the integrated approach
  • your site
  • solar gain
  • low energy lighting
  • double and triple glazing
  • photovoltaic cells
  • solar panels
  • geo-thermal and air to water systems
  • wind turbines
  • heat recovery systems


If you have any other related questions or topics for discussion, contact us on our Facebook/Allan Curran Architects, or by emailing us on