Buckfastleigh Transition Town – for a sustainable future for Buckfastleigh, Devon
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  • 8th September 09 – the ‘Team’ arrive…

    Posted on September 17th, 2009 andy No comments

    8th September 09

    The Team arrived this morning – surveyors first to survey the outside of the house – they would do the insides when everyone else had finished.

    Surveyors at work

    Surveyors at work

    Then the architect, Michael from GHK (Gilmore Hankey Kirke) in Plymouth, arrived, and introduced us to Sally the engineer from WARM, the green consultants and a couple of others. They proceeded to seal up the house – taping off all the ventilation grills (and holes!), and fitting a seal and fan to the front door to make  air-pressure tests on the house. In this way they can see how drafty the house is and how much energy it would therefore take to heat. This is called air-tightness testing and is something you can get done at your house for around £200-£400 along with a report on how you can improve your home heating efficiency.

    Sealing up ventilators

    Sealing up ventilators

    82% of the energy used in a house is used in heating – rooms or water, so this is the main area to address for increasing energy-efficiency (Lots of useful information here ).

    Seal and fan being fitted over front doorway

    Seal and fan being fitted over front doorway

    Once everything was sealed up, the fan was turned on and several tests were performed. While the fan was on suck, you could feel the drafts coming in from odd places, like behind the fitted kitchen cupboards – possibly through an airbrick that had been only partly covered.

    We were told that the measurement was in terms of the number of times each hour that the air in the entire building would be replaced – the minimum for building regulations currently on new buildings was 10 ACH (Air Changes per Hour), but for an ‘eco-house’ they would be aiming for a much lower figure than this. Well the result of the tests was that we got a rating of over 13! (and that was with the loft sealed off and the catflap covered) Obviously there is a whole lot of room for improvement here!

    Air Pressure test kit from inside front door - ready to be turned on

    Air Pressure test kit from inside front door - ready to be turned on

    The idea is that the airflow in and out of the building should be controlled (especially in cold weather), so that enough airflow is there to feel comfortable and allow for the fire and cooking to have enough oxygen, but without wind whistling in at random where it is not wanted.

    Lots of other measurements were taken, and loft insulation examined, so that plans could be drawn up, and cold spots worked out, and computer models of the building constructed.

    Sally told us that the project was to be based on the 1990 average carbon footprint (calculated per sq metre of the building) – this was the figure that the 80% reduction had to be made from – as our energy use is fairly low anyway, that should give them a bit of a head start.

    The engineers are very enthusiastic that technology will be the answer to all our problems – we were very dubious that they could achieve such a dramatic target without the occupants of these buildings adopting major life-style changes as well.

    We hope that taking part in this process will make us much more aware of our energy use, so that we are informed about where to make these changes – it’s hard to have a sense of where energy is being lost or squandered without going through a detailed audit like this – we are so used, these days, to having unlimited cheap energy at the touch of a button…