Transition to sustainable energy
Why do we need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels? The Transition movement recognises that burning fossil fuels creates unacceptable levels of carbon and pollution, and as they become scarcer and have to be extracted from more and more difficult environments (the Arctic, deep oceans…) they are bound to become more expensive: “Our leaders, when designing for our future, assume there will always be cheap energy, economic growth, growth in car use and so on – all of which are highly questionable assumptions. Surely we can do better than that?”
(From Transition Network on energy)
TTK Energy Group recent initiatives
We aim to build awareness of peak oil and climate change and to mobilise a community-led process towards energy efficiency and resilience.
We are building a network of people who share ideas and engage stakeholders to reduce carbon emissions and encourage energy efficiency in our community. The Energy Group’s activities and outreach are oriented towards: home energy efficiency; decentralised energy solutions; education and community awareness raising; making links with local businesses, Kingston University and other Transition initiatives. We hold regular working meetings and occasional talks and open meetings – see TTK Events for current events. Anyone interested in furthering TTK’s energy projects and initiatives, or helping with practical projects, or seeking advice is welcome to contact us.
In 2023 the Energy Group responded to Kingston Council consultation on a new Kingston Plan. You can read the response here; members of the EG also gave or planned several talks about energy efficiency, keeping cool in hot summers, and "the truth about heat- pumps" (see photo on the left)
Members have trialled OpenTRV/Vestimi's Radbot, a sophisticated radiator valve that promises large energy savings, invented by Damon of the Energy Group.
In Kingston's "Sustainable September" in 2022 we organised and participated in an Open Eco-House weekend. For future Open House events, if you’ve made energy-efficiency changes to your home and would be happy to open it up to visitors for a day and talk about the pros and cons of your home improvements, please get in touch with the Energy Group.
In 2022 members of the Energy Group also spoke about energy-efficiency during September's GreenZone and have given similar presentations since.
Energy Group and other resources and advice
Thinking of extending your home? Patrick Manwell of TTK’s Energy Group says that planning a major extension offers the ideal opportunity to decarbonise your entire house and reduce your energy bills. Find out why here.
Want to comment on planning applications for major extensions, recommending retrofitting the whole house to improve energy efficiency - some ideas here, but please use your own words.
Thinking about installing an air source heat pump? Damon of TTK’s Energy Group has put together a lot of useful information at https://www.earth.org.uk/ASHP-case-study-Kingston-UK.html, including questions to ask a supplier and a case-study on a Kingston house.
- A useful feature on heat-pumps in The Observer, April 2023,
- The Guardian on how the costs and savings stack up
- The Guardian takes a spin through the average British house to look at how heat leaks and how insulation can save money – and slash Britain’s carbon emissions, July 2022
- Possible's Guide to Heat Pumps
- At home with a heat pump - 4 householders with recently installed air source heat pumps discuss the ups and downs of ownership in The Guardian
- New heat pump and hydrogen research from Imperial College at https://www.mcscharitablefoundation.org/news/2022/1/24/heat-pumps-not-hydrogen-must-be-urgent-home-heating-priority-for-government
- What type of heat pump would work in my home? The pros and cons from Houzz home décor website in a feature about heat pumps.
- Can every home have an air source heat pump? Or is that claim a load of hot air? Heat pumps are promising to not only make our houses greener but to also cut our energy bills. But will they and are they suitable for all houses? “Sliced Bread” on BBC R4 asks the questions.
See also the story of a series of energy efficiency improvements to small modern house in Kingston 1999-2022, with some of the lessons learnt from piecemeal improvements over two decades, and Ian Chown's article about his .Zero Carbon typical Edwardian retrofitted house,
Energy Group collection of useful advice on designing buildings for energy efficiciency and environmental sustainability
Tips - See our energy-saving tips here
If you'd like to carry out an energy survey of your home or community space, you can use this check-list from the Centre for Sustainable Energy, which will help to identify heating, lighting and insulation improvements you could make.
Check your personal carbon footprint using carbon calculators (some of which offer carbon offsets such as planting trees) on one of these websites:
Berkeley’s peer-reviewed CoolClimate
Check energy and carbon information
https://www.carbonbrief.org/factcheck-what-is-the-carbon-footprint-of-streaming-video-on-netflix and https://www.carbonbrief.org/
Transition Town Lewes Eco Open House events: 3 useful virtual tours of eco-homes in Lewes took place in February 2021, focusing on: Heating your home: Alternatives to oil and gas; Insulation & draughtproofing – how to keep the heat in; and Powering your home: photovoltaics and batteries. Hear from people who have actually made major and minor changes to their homes in the recorded tours and discussions on TT Lewis website.
For Councils - the LGA's Climate change hub offers a wide range of support to help councils address climate change and environmental sustainability.
Carbon Co-op is an energy services and advocacy co-operative that helps people and communities to make the radical reductions in home carbon emissions necessary to avoid runaway climate change. Since 2020, Carbon Co-op has been holding a series of webinars on all areas of its work on reducing carbon emissions, including retrofit, energy systems and much more. You can see recordings of these presentations here and check out future events here.
Past TTK initiatives on energy
Until fairly recently the Energy Group was working with SWLEN and its Energy Visits, and giving advice to householders, mainly about energy-efficiency, though the SWLEN project has now lapsed.
August 2019, TTK and Biofuelwatch film show and discussion: "BURNED" at Kingston University. The film tells the little-known story of the accelerating destruction of our forests for fuel and probes the policy loopholes, huge subsidies and greenwashing of the biomass industry. The film focuses on the cutting of forests in the south-eastern US, which are then shipped to Europe to be burned primarily in Drax Power Station in Yorkshire, the largest biomass power station in the world. Since then, Kingston Environment News has regularly featured Biofuelwatch campaigns and petitions.
February 2019 - members of Energy group attend presentation on a Study of District Heating Networks in RBK by Buro Happold on 19/02/19 at a meeting hosted by Kingston Council. Read a report on the presentation by Peter Mason of the Energy Group.
Winter 2018-19 - Energy Group advise Cornerhouse community theatre on making the building more energy-efficient.
Winter 2017 -18 Energy Group advise Kingston Quaker Centre on adjusting their heat pump.
February 2016, “Keeping cosy…”: Three Saturday morning energy-saving workshops held by TTK Energy Group at Kingston Environment Centre, were very useful for those who participated, though numbers were small. You can see the outline and useful tips and links from the workshops here.
Kingston Community Energy was TTK Energy Group’s community interest company, formed to enable us to raise funds and take on projects such as installing solar PV arrays on the roofs of community buildings such as schools. It offered the community an opportunity to make a social investment in our area and receive a moderate financial reward for that investment. However, the government’s reduction in the Feed-In Tariff in effect destroyed KCE’s business model which relied on the FIT, and local schools proved remarkably reluctant to engage on what seemed to the EG a win-win deal. So in 2016 they began the process of winding up Kingston Community Energy, as the administration costs in keeping it registered could no longer be justified.
November 2015, “We need to talk about nuclear…”: Transition Town Kingston Energy Group's Peter and Damon in an ever-topical discussion with local MP Ed Davey at Kingston Quaker Centre, Fairfield East. We urgently need clean, sustainable energy – should nuclear be part of the mix? Did a few minds change in the course of the discussion?
February 2015, "Energy for the future – is policy fit for purpose?": Energy Secretary and local MP, Ed Davey and Duncan Law of Biofuelwatch discussed a wide range of energy issues facing the local and wider community at Kingston Workmen’s Club.
Winter 2014-15, Thermal imaging: TTK Energy Group hosted and organised several thermal imaging parties and individual thermal imaging visits around Kingston.
In 2014 Kingston Council gave the Energy Group a grant of £1000 to buy a thermal imaging camera, which enables us to show home-owners and businesses exactly where they are losing heat, and then advise them how to fix the leaks. We can use the thermal imaging camera on your house on request during winter months.
March 2013, Paint the Town Green all over Kingston: Kingston’s annual celebration of all things environmental, was timed for national Climate Week 2013. 16 businesses joined the Big Switch Off, switching off unnecessary lights and equipment when their shops and offices were not in use: WPG Surveys Ltd, Surbiton; John Lewis Kingston; Penmor, Surbiton; KEW Lighting, New Malden; Woodland Traditional Windows, Kingston; Seoul Residential, New Malden; Ditton Wine Traders, Surbiton; Simone Kay Stained Glass, Kingston; Kingston Citizens Advice Bureau; Parabola Software, Surbiton; Whitman Fry Wealth Management Ltd, Kingston; SJJ Limited; La Tasca, Kingston; Kingston Chamber of Commerce; Jivadental, Kingston; Cine Sanctuary.
March 2013, Green Open Houses 2013: members of TTK Energy Group opened their energy-efficient houses to the public for the Superhomes weekend.
January 2013, “Energy we can all afford?”: “Warmer homes, lower bills, cooler planet” – how could we achieve these? TTK, working with Kingston’s Save the World Club and the national Energy We Can All Afford campaign, hosted a panel discussion on this topic, covering fuel poverty, energy efficiency and the current Energy Bill. The Rt Hon Edward Davey, MP for Kingston and Surbiton and Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, was keynote speaker, and the panel of experts, local and national, consisted of Shane Brennan, Chief Executive of Age Concern Kingston, Andrew Pendleton of Friends of the Earth, Martyn Williams from Transform UK, and Ben Farnes, Young Media Champion, National Children’s Bureau. Well attended, with good questions from the floor and a consistent message from the panel that insulation of our old and inadequate housing stock is a sustainable and feasible way to deal with fuel poverty, the event showed a keen local appetite for such discussions and left many wanting more. Thanks to the many helpers from TTK and our co-organiser Save the World Club, it was both a sociable evening with plentiful refreshments and some interesting displays and giveaway energy-saving items, as well as one where important messages were delivered to the Secretary of State for Environment and Climate Change.
December 2012, TTK Energy Group event: “Energy efficiency: whole house strategies” with experts from Green Tomato, now Enhabit. This talk, hosted by TTK Energy Group, attracted a good diverse audience with lots of excellent questions for Marine Sanchez, Building Physics Engineer, and Inigo Harrison, Project Manager. Marine and Inigo discussed the advantages of various energy-efficiency measures in the home, from the easy low-cost wins that everyone should do first, such as draught-proofing and LED lights, to high tech and expensive renovations and solutions, as well as the challenges and problems associated with retrofitting the older houses that most of us live in. Marine pointed out that most of the cost of work on your house is labour, so having extra layers of insulation while the work is being done is relatively inexpensive, and that an essential part of any energy-efficiency measure is “training” the householder to make it work for them. They expertly answered questions about condensation, cold spots and thermal bridges, triple and secondary glazing, conservatories, the merits of various forms of wall insulation and cladding, and how to keep houses cool as well as warm and healthy as well as air-tight. Like most interested observers, they were waiting for the Green Deal to be fully worked out, but warned that some Green Deal assessors and installers might only have a couple of days’ training, that some suggested improvements could actually damage a property, and that the interest rate on Green Deal loans is likely to higher than one could get elsewhere. It was really useful to hear properly qualified experts speaking on an issue that concerns most of us and where there is almost as much bad advice as good to be had.
June 2012, Kingston Rio Connection event: TTK was one of the co-organisers of this discussion, part of a national debate organised by the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition to mark 20 years on from the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. This summer government representatives from around the world met at a ‘Rio+20’ summit to discuss sustainable development, and this event was a invitation to join this pre-summit discussion in Kingston to discuss sustainable development with our panel of experts: Ed Davey MP – (for Kingston & Surbiton, and Secretary of State (SoS for Energy and Climate Change) ; Christine Allen (Chair) – Director of Policy & Public Affairs – Christian Aid; Laura Taylor – Head of Policy – Tearfund; Hilary Gander – Transition Town Kingston; Alban Thurston – Project Director – Juice From Your Roof. Ed said that we had made progress since the first Earth Summit in Rio 20 years ago but that it had been ‘far, far too slow’. He spoke about the importance of the sustainable development goals food security, access to clean water and access for all to green, clean energy and the ‘moral imperative of taking action in this area’. Our audience had a chance to put questions and make comments after hearing from all the speakers and the topics ranged from the choice of investing in road building as opposed to other forms of sustainable transport, to the sustainability of global population growth.
May 2012, Green Open House weekend 2012: “It’s good to talk” The first ever Kingston Green Open House, a TTK Energy Group contribution to Kingston’s Paint the Town Green month, proved a very promising initiative – relatively small in numbers (of open houses and visitors) but providing useful and positive interactions between householders who had undertaken a variety of energy-saving and other green actions and visitors seeking (and occasionally offering) impartial advice, based on experience, on what worked, what didn’t, what was cost-effective, which materials had been used and why, what would be practicable… One satisfied visitor reported: “We visited four places on that day. Every one of them helped with questions I have been struggling to answer for a very long time. I can’t tell you how good it is to have found people with such enthusiasm and such a depth of experience, so willing to talk and share their knowledge.” And a TTK Open House host said: “I enjoyed it! I like chatting about these things and sharing what I’ve learnt so far… and I think that they enjoyed it. It worked well that all four visitors were here at the same time so they got to learn from each other’s questions.” Another was very relieved that she had invited her heat pump installer to come along to answer technical questions! Thank you to the TTK-ers and friends of TTK-ers who opened their homes to visitors. To think about for next year: how to publicise better and expand the numbers of participating homes and visitors; how to follow up and continue the engagement with interested visitors.
February 2012, "Where does your heat go?" Thermal imaging “party”: Four very different houses in Kingston, and several lessons learnt at a February thermal imaging “party” organised by Kevin Burchell of Kingston University’s Smart Communities project, hosted by Peter and Marilyn Mason of TTK, and conducted by John Gallop and Sue Williams of South West London Environment Network (swlen.org.uk). Key lessons included: take a critical look at your front door and your pet-flap (could be worthwhile fixes); seal those draughts (cheap and effective); consider double-glazing and other insulation (not so cheap, but effective); live in a modern house (not necessarily feasible). Read more here, including some advice.
July 2011, TTK’s Tricky Time Trial: Who went fastest in the TTK time trial: the BMW, the bicycle, the scooter, the skateboard or the roller-blades? There was a catch, as you might expect from a event organised by TTK for Zero Carbon Britain Day. Read the full report here and watch a video about it here.
March 2011, “Kingston in 2050 – A Green Energy Future?”, a day conference organised with Kingston Council on aspirations for a greener more resilient Kingston, with expert speakers from industry, government, academia, and the third-sector, and public discussion focussing on the future aspirations for a greener Kingston and the path to achieving climate change resiliency. Based on a vision 4 kingston-2050, the experts addresed the opportunities and challenges of making this vision happen.
June 2010, Waste to Energy debate: a discussion to tease out the pros and cons of this contentious issue, a follow-up to the visit to SELCHP plant in May.
May 2010, visit to SELCHP Energy Recovery Facility South Bermondsey, with a presentation and tour of the facility, organised by Julie Middleditch of TTK’s Council Group – see write-up.