Being a Green VA – Part 2: Insulation & Heating

Continuing on my journey to being a Green Virtual Assistant, and because I work from home, I have had to consider how to “green my home” as part of my mission to green the business premises – I hope you will be able to consider for your business premises, or your home as each step is designed to reduce energy use, save money and, in turn, save the world!

The Property – Insulation

There is no point in discussing heating, unless we know that the heat will stay within the building!

We have recently employed Ventrolla to renovate the original sash-windows in the property, draft-proofing them and increasing their efficiency, whilst re-using the current windows rather than having to source extra materials for new windows. We are convinced this is the greenest option we could have chosen without destroying the nature of the building.

Most of the loft-space has been converted into living space, but that which is still open to the roof has been insulated appropriately.

Unfortunately, the building is not suited to cavity wall insulation because, although it has cavity walls (very innovative for being built in 1879!), the cavity gap is too small for insulation to be fitted (3cm instead of 5cm). As we are in a conservation zone, external insulation is unlikely to be an option, although, as we renovate rooms throughout the house, internal insulation will be discussed.

Heating

Potential Co-op Energy Sources

Co-op Energy pledge that by April 2012, the energy for our electricity will have less than half the carbon content of the national average from the previous year. This shows one possible energy mix to achieve that pledge in the future.

Supply

We have recently switched our energy supplier to The Co-operative Energy for both gas and electric. They may not use 100% renewables for electricity, but are a highly ethical company, avoid using coal and are planning to ensure that the carbon content of their electricity is “less than half the national average by April 2012“.

Central Heating

Thanks to the local BM Revill Plumbing & Heating Services, we have recently installed a new condensing, combi, A-rated (90.2% efficient!) Worcester Bosch boiler to ensure that, when central-heating or hot water is required, the boiler is the most suitable for the property. They also double-checked the hot-water pipes are lagged and provided us with a wireless room thermostat so the boiler switches itself off when the office is up to temperature and switches on again when the temperature drops (rather than being on all the time).

We have also purchased a Radiator Booster, to circulate the hot air from the radiators more efficiently (which enables the boiler to switch off earlier than it perhaps would) and utilised the thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) to ensure that only the rooms that are in use are getting fully heated.

Temperature Management

I try to keep the average office temperature at about 18°C during the winter, which is still above the minimum 16°C, but below the recommended 19-23°C; I can put on extra layers of clothing if I am cold. I also try and take advantage of the concept of passive solar gain – therefore during sunny winter days, I open all the curtains to ensure any warmth from the sun can get into the building, closing them at dusk to keep any accumulated heat within the building. During the summer, on hot days, I may leave curtains closed if the sun is directly on the window to reduce solar gain and keep the room cool.

I will admit, I’m not sure how warm it will get during the summer, but the renovated sash windows are capable of opening at the top and bottom, which is known for being highly effective in circulating air to keep a room cool.

The property has no gas-fires, however it has a renovated antique French stove which can be lit if required. This uses sustainably sourced kindling, paper-briquettes made from waste paper and junk-mail and smoke-free e-coal / fire-logs.

2 Responses to Being a Green VA – Part 2: Insulation & Heating

  • I use co-op too and love them because they make everything so simple. I used to get terribly confused with my last provider because of all the tariffs, but Co-op only have two so there is nothing to get confused about. I feel I’m doing ‘my bit’ too while I try and find a totally green provider that is cost -effective..

    • I’ve found that a lot of places that do “green energy” actually only mean “green electricity”. They often don’t offer an option for gas and it’s very inconvenient having your gas and electricity by different suppliers. I’d been with a company in the past that promised to carbon offset my gas and source all of my electricity from renewables, which would have been great – and I thought it was, until a year later I found out that they’d seriously messed up, I’d never been on that tarrif, so there was no offset for the gas and my electricity was not from renewables – to top it off, they’d overcharged us £750! I was fuming! That was when I switched. The co-op are very open about what they are currently doing and what they hope to achieve. :)

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