As part of their Climate Week coverage next week Blue Peter presenters Helen Skelton and Barney Harwood took up residence in one of the eco-homes on Green Close at The University of Nottingham to find out just how energy efficient – or not – they are.
Together with Barney the dog they spent 24 hours in the E.ON 2016 research house, part of the Creative Energy Homes Project which is led by the Department of Architecture and Built Environment. The house is a re-creation of a 1930s semi-detached home which is being used to trial and test energy retrofit solutions aimed at reducing the carbon impact of the UK’s existing housing stock.
As part of a research project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and E.ON the house is equipped with a high-tech real time location energy and occupancy monitoring system. The system was used to find out just how much energy Helen, Barney and Barney the dog used and how much they wasted. The results will be revealed on Monday March 212011 on Blue Peter at 4.30pm.
Helen and Barney, along with Barney the dog, wanted to find out how much energy they used on an average couple of days.
Helen said: “The point of all this is to show kids how much energy we use and to make them think about what they can do to off-set that. Before I did this I thought I was so carbon neutral. But having to stop and think about what I was doing has made me really think about how good I am at conserving energy.”
Dr Mark Gillott, Co-Director of the Institute of Sustainable Energy Technology at The University of Nottingham, told the presenters to live in the house as normally as they possibly could. During their 24 hour sleep-over the monitoring systems registered where they were, how much energy they were using and how they were using it. The technology also monitored how warm they kept the house and the amount of water they used and wasted.
A breakdown of the results would tell them what their energy consumption was for lighting, heating, cooking and appliances, right down to the TV and games console they were using. Armed with this information, experts at the University were able to calculate their total energy carbon footprint for the 24 hour period. There CO2 production for an hour was illustrated to the presenters and programme viewers using black party balloons. The quantity of CO2 they produced from poor energy use behaviour like leaving the lights on or over-filling the kettle was also shown.
Dr Gillott said: “The unique energy and occupancy monitoring system we have in the house can see where people are at any time of the day or night and what their energy consumption is. It gives a real feel for who is using the energy and how and where they are using it. In everyday life it’s hard for people to quantify their energy use and visualise CO2 emissions so to reach out to a younger audience we had to find a way of representing the CO2 emissions from our living lab during the monitoring period. All will be revealed in Monday night’s Blue Peter programme.
“Over one year a typical home in the UK is responsible for the production of enough CO2 to fill a hot air balloon, and when you consider there are 26 million homes in the UK, then that's a staggering 26 million hot air balloons worth of CO2 produced from housing alone!”
The aim of the Blue Peter visit was to also give their young viewers an idea of where savings can be made and how important it is that everyone should do their bit to conserve energy.
The results will be shown on Blue Peter on Monday 21 March 2011.