Heat and Drought

10/07/2018 at 8:15 am | Posted in Gardens, Home Energy saving | Leave a comment
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It is really hot and dry in Balsall Heath in July, so I am adapting to the conditions as follows.

Close all the windows and doors at home during the day, to prevent warm air from the street entering. Keep curtains and blinds closed on the sunny side of the house, to shade the rooms. When the sun has gone down, purge the house of heat by opening the highest windows and the back door – being aware of security, as the police always remind us.

My water from showering and washing up has gone on the plants in their containers, now that the rain butt is empty. Lawns do not need watering and will come back when it rains. Severn Trent offer more water saving tips and gadgets on their website. I save £80 a year by being metered and only paying for what I use details

Thanks to those who are working  to install rain butts in community gardens in Balsall Heath, this summer, which will help in future droughts.

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Open session at Zero Carbon House

18/01/2018 at 4:47 pm | Posted in Community energy, Home Energy saving | Leave a comment

It was the most energy efficient house in the country when it was built, right here in Balsall Heath. A house with no bills and no radiators or gas supply! How do they do it?

Following a recent BBC programme, the house will again open to visitors on the morning of  Thursday 1st February, 11am to 1pm. Please book a place if you want to visit. More details at the website ZCH

If you cannot visit on this day, then there is a lovely video about the house

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The Zero Carbon House

Five energy saving tips this winter

13/12/2016 at 4:12 pm | Posted in Home Energy saving | Leave a comment

Here are ‘five heating myths’, which many people believe, according to Age UK, but which are wrong and will actually waste energy and cost you money;

  1. Don’t turn up the heating controls when it gets cold outside  -because your heating will heat to its set temperature anyway. If you make it hotter indoors, then the extra heat just tries even harder to escape. Also, the warmer it feels indoors, the colder it will feel outdoors.
  2. Don’t turn up the heating to make the room warm up more quickly. This won’t work  and will only stop the heating from shutting down when a comfortable temperature is reached.
  3. Don’t leave your heating on all the time. There is no point in heating space when no one is there. You want heat only when you need it, and as much as you need it.
  4. Don’t heat water all the time, for the same reasons.
  5. Do not keep electric storage heaters on all the time. They are designed to input at night when electricity is cheaper and then output at set times. Most people do not understand them but there are online videos to explain,  like this one by British Gas

Free Energy Advice event

24/10/2016 at 1:20 pm | Posted in Community energy, Home Energy saving, Solar power | Leave a comment
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Balsall Heath is our Planet, a local charity, is offering free energy advice.
What changes can you make at home to save heating, electricity and water? Generate your own? Switch to a green supplier?
We shall have a stall on Sunday 30th October at the Moseley Road Baths Watch Day from 10am to 5pm.
See also the historic Baths in the centre of Balsall Heath and learn about their past and future. A good time to discover the ORT café opposite and the new Pocket Park on Moseley Road – a good day out in Balsall Heath!
‘Making a Change’ with lottery funding. See you on Sunday John Newson
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House with no Fuel Bills

30/08/2016 at 10:04 am | Posted in Home Energy saving, Solar power | Leave a comment
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Once again it is time for Open Day at the Zero Carbon House in Balsall Heath. On Saturday 10th September people are invited to see how the house works to produce its own heat, electricity, water and food. We can’t all live in such a house, but we shall be inspired and Balsall Heath Is Our Planet will be there to help people Making a Change in their own life with practical lessons about how to move to a Low Energy and Low Carbon.
Details of the event which starts 11am and finishes 4pm are at the website
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Save on winter heating

26/11/2015 at 4:15 pm | Posted in Home Energy saving | Leave a comment

The best way to save on heating is to only heat the space you need, as much as you need and when you need it. So that means insulation to slow heat loss from your home and getting control over your heating system. I have updated the Energy Advice page of this website with some useful links Go to page

Is time running out for solar?

17/09/2015 at 3:27 pm | Posted in Community energy, Home Energy saving, Solar power | Leave a comment
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Many people who have been thinking about putting solar panels on their roof in Balsall Heath may not be aware that time could be running out. The government has announced a review of the rates of feed in tariff payable to people who give their roofs for the purpose. Rates are announced until 31 December but are proposed to drop to a very low level from 1st January. This means that all the installers are being rung and filling their diaries with orders, as homeowners try to beat the degression. If you do get it done in 2015, then the income is guaranteed for 20 years and the review underlines that.
I have written an information sheet which I hope is impartial about solar costs and benefits. email bhiop[at]jerciho.org.uk if you want to be sent a copy John Newson
If you do not have a suitable roof, you may consider investing in Community Energy Birmingham which is putting panels onto community buildings in this area website

A House with no Fuel Bills

04/09/2015 at 2:55 pm | Posted in Home Energy saving, Solar power | Leave a comment
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IMG_6352One of the most energy efficient houses in Britain is opening its doors on Saturday 12th September. Everyone welcome. Free admission and tours with John Christophers its architect and owner from 11am -4pm. A wonderful and inspiring story, following the family’s experience with the Birmingham Tornado 2005- what a positive response! While some people worry about the changing atmosphere these people have shown how to live Zero Carbon, on renewable energy. This will be a chance to learn more about you can do at home to save energy, and to use solar energy. Event for children at 2pm. There is a super new website for the house www.zch.org.uk
See you all there!

Using Solar Energy at Home

04/08/2015 at 12:01 pm | Posted in Home Energy saving, Solar power | Leave a comment
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Solar panelsAlder Following the successful Solar Energy day in Balsall Heath I have now produced an Information Sheet that tries to be impartial. Many people get phone calls making exaggerated claims for solar PV panels and so have come to be too sceptical about the benefits, which are real. At home I have just had an electricity bill of £11 for the summer quarter, which shows I am making the greater part of the electricity I use from my 7 rooftop panels. The Information Sheet lists the companies in Birmingham that are registered and approved to install solar panels on your roof; so they can provide a quote and tell you how much power you would generate and money you would save. To be sent a copy please email me John Newson bhiop[at]Jericho.org.uk

Solar Energy Day in Balsall Heath

15/07/2015 at 10:58 am | Posted in Community energy, Home Energy saving, Solar power | Leave a comment
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This is another chance to learn from Balsall Heath, on Saturday 18th July 2015. We shall share our knowledge about the costs and benefits of solar panels. This is not a selling occasion, but a chance for people to find sources of impartial advice and information to help home owners and local organisations to make the right decision.
All are welcome to Drop in and find us 2pm to 4pm at Balsall Heath Church Centre, 100 Mary Street (corner with Edward Rd) Balsall Heath, Birmingham B12 9JU
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