Second Life

28/04/2010 at 11:31 am | Posted in Recycling | Leave a comment

If we re-use things, instead of buying new, we save money, but also save the energy, water, transport and material required to make new things. In Balsall Heath there are some exciting initiatives to give everything a ‘second life’.

Great Green Clothes Swap
People bring clothes they don’t wear any more to and swap them. No buying and selling; you just swap what you don’t want for what you do want. Separate adult and children’s clothes events are being organised at the Balsall Heath Church Centre, Edward Road .

Charity Shop
Balsall Heath’s only charity shop is to be opened soon by Jericho Foundation on Edward Road. They already have a stock of clothes, books, games, household goods donated. The shop will be used to train unemployed people in retailing skills (0121 440 7919).

Cycle workshop
This will be based at Jericho Foundation, using donated cycle tools to repair old bicycles and sell them at reasonable prices, to get people cycling. Again, this will be a training scheme for unemployed people (0121 440 7919).

Plant recycling
Residents are donating spare plants from their gardens to the Community Garden Centre on St Paul’s Road, which are sold on to others to plant out and enjoy (0121 446 6183 email: admin(at)


New power station in Balsall Heath

19/04/2010 at 3:41 pm | Posted in Solar power | Leave a comment

The small number of roofs with solar panels that are able to generate electricity in Balsall Heath will increase by one on 4th May. This is the day they will be installed on my house, John Newson in Alder Road. There will be 7 panels on the south-facing roof, generating over 1 kilo watt, when it is full daylight (whatever the temperature), more electricity than I am usually using. You are welcome to look from the street.

The electricity will go first into my house circuit, if any appliances are switched on. All surplus will go into the local network to power any demand from the neighbourhood. Over 1,000 kilowatt hours per year will be produced, more than I use, so the house will become a small power station.

I shall receive the ‘feed in tariff’ or ‘clean energy cashback’, plus a small amount for any power exported, plus the savings from the electric units I would have had to buy. About £600 a year in all.

The cost was £8,000, less a government grant of £2,500. To get the grant I had to show that my house was already energy effiicent in other ways. This grant is no longer available, but prices are falling. I think my house is a lot more valuable as a power station, than when it was an ordinary house. It will go onto the house’s Energy Performance Certificate, if I should put it on the market This feels like a safe investment with a good return, compared to keeping money in the bank.

It is good to become part of the solution, of to how we are to make clean power that doesn’t add to the invisible ‘greenhouse gases’ in the air, by using the sun that falls on our buildings. It isn’t the whole answer (especially at night!) but may be a peice of the answer.

I have produced an information sheet called ‘Using Solar Power at Home’ ; email me for a copy at BHIOP[at]

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