When it comes to old buildings and making them energy efficient there’s one very important point to understand: old buildings work in a different way to modern buildings. Old solid wall buildings – whether medieval timber-framed houses or Edwardian terraces – are designed to allow a degree of moisture penetration into their structure. But, and…

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Not so long ago home automation was just a fancy way of saying a home had a cabled music system with loudspeakers hidden in the ceilings. Not any more. Today the feel-good factor of buying a home equipped with the latest technology is as much about saving energy as relaxing to a melody. Yes, there’s…

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A lot has been written about overheating in homes recently, especially in relation to energy efficiency measures introduced under the Green Deal. The BBC quotes Prof Chris Goodier, of Loughborough University’s department of civil and building engineering, who “said the risk of overheating had been overlooked in the ‘big rush to insulate and make homes…

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Incandescent light bulbs (lamps) have illuminated the world for more than a century. They’ve done it in a way that has felt natural in historic interiors and has been flattering to the complexion because traditional tungsten filaments provide a spectrum of light not dissimilar to fire or candlelight. Now they’ve been banned in favour of…

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Each time I write a book I say to myself “never again”. This is all very well but when a good idea comes along it’s hard to resist. Towards the end of 2010 I watched as the ink dried on my signature at the bottom of a contract for “a book provisionally entitled ‘The Old…

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Your Social Housing in a Changing Climate is a new report from the London Climate Change Partnership. It makes fascinating reading and there were some illuminating presentations at its launch at City Hall earlier this week. The report focuses on the Colne and Mersea blocks in the London Borough of Dagenham. These two blocks, comprising 200 flats,…

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The solar PV (photovoltaic) industry has had a bumpy ride of late and more than one installer has told me that “domestic solar has fallen off a cliff”. Even so, at the recent launch of the BRE National Solar Centre in St Austell, Cornwall, Greg Barker, Energy and Climate Change Minister, tempered the difficulties of the past…

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Yesterday a double glazing salesman arrive at my door at the very moment the phone rang with a call from a solar panel saleswoman. Such annoyances are rarely quite so simultaneous but they are regular. This is one of the reasons I’m pleased to hear that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has written to…

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Good to see a letter in The Times yesterday on The Green Deal, albeit under the slightly misleading headline ‘Insulation is bad for old buildings’. Signed by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, Kevin McCloud, The National Trust, Loyd Grossman, Chair Churches Conservation Trust and many other organisations and individuals from the conservation…

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Over the years I’ve sat through a good many awards ceremonies but few, if any, have been as inspiring as last week’s Ashden Awards for sustainable energy. There was none of the hype or greenwash often associated with sustainable solutions; just ordinary people, or rather I should say extraordinary people, with good ideas and the…

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Four days of speaking and answering questions at the National Homebuilding & Renovating Show in Birmingham has only strengthened my concerns about the issues relating to the insulation of walls in old buildings. Twelve months ago the subject was barely on most people’s radar but, this year, the volume of questions relating to the topic…

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