Monday, 18 April 2011

How Germany saves energy

Let's be fair though, Germany also saves some energy where the UK doesn't. As Martin rightly pointed out in the comment section, insulation goes a lot further in some countries, Germany being one of them. In recent years there was a lot of house building going on and the specifications are much more energy efficient than anything available in the UK. Last year, when we visited Munich, the plane landed into a sea of solar panels. It seemed that every single house had solar panels and new houses are built with efficient (as much as it pains me to use this adjective with anything relating to Germany) insulation and many also come with some form of renewables.

Compare this to our post victorian mid terrace: single glazing, lots of windows, uninsulated loft and drafty floorboards. The suggestion to turn down thermostats or the gas boiler for the central heating is met with a sarcastic laughter, because when it gets cold, so are we. We can't actually get the house warm in winter.

We jumped at the offer of the Energy Saving Trust to conduct an energy efficiency assessment. I even contacted them directly to explore ways of saving energy and maybe even installing renewables. The problem we encountered was that while we got lots of leaflets through the door and were able to request a visit, nothing much actually happened. I think I completed their questionnaires about 4 times (online, twice over the phone and face to face), but never got further than a promise of a visit/call/loft insulation (none of which actually happened). As to getting some feedback on whether or not we could install renewables - all my requests seem to have petered out into thin air. We have not had a visit, and I can't tell myself if solar panels are a viable option (I fear not).

And as far as loft insulation is concerned - we went through our energy provider who was very quick (with some hiccups, but nothing serious) and got it done and dusted.

Unfortunately the house is too old for cavity wall insulation, and the windows may be single glazed but they are lovely and original, so we'll be sticking to the thick curtains for now. Insulating the floorboards may still be a good plan for next winter, but beyond that we're stuck with the make of the house. And the hot water bottle.


Muddling Along said...

We have an old Victorian cottage and to be honest there isn't a lot we can do to improve things (athough I am looking at what extra roof insulation we can add) - mostly its only heating the rooms we reguarly use, lots of blankets and a hot water bottle (and training the children that cold is good for you!)

Does mean that when we go to my MIL's we all feel as if we're about to expire from the heat

Rachel said...

We're the same - old house, no insulation etc. In winter we often light a log fire and stay in one room for the evening. It's very cosy as long as you don't want to go into other parts of the house(!)



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