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Grand Design's Kevin McCloud and the Great British Refurb

Published: Sunday, 11th October 2009

Grand Design’s Kevin McCloud is spearheading the “Grand Designs Great British Refurb” – an ambitious new campaign to combat climate change.



Supported by the WWF, the Energy Saving Trust, the UK Green Building Council and Grand Designs Magazine, the Great British Refurb’s aim is to increase the energy efficiency of our homes to help the UK meet its target of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by the year 2050. 


Already the campaign has attracted the support of the main political parties.  In August Gordon Brown wrote to the campaign welcoming their efforts to raise awareness of what we can all do to make our homes greener. 


And this week Kevin McCloud spoke at the Conservative party conference where he explained the aims of the Great British Refurb and how it is vital that we make our homes greener if the UK is to have any chance of meeting its 2050 target.


As Kevin explained, the reason the Great British Refurb is so important is simple: 


  • the UK’s 26 million homes create 27% of our CO₂ emissions
  • of the housing stock we will have in 2050 a massive 85% has already been built
  • therefore, without significantly improving the energy efficiency of our existing homes it will be impossible to meet our 80% reduction target


The Great British Refurb calls for a nationwide programme of green refurbishment to allow people to turn their homes into low carbon dwellings.  Key to this is finding practical ways of meeting the costs of green refurbishment.


One way in which this might work is for government or the utility companies to meet the upfront costs, which are then paid back from the savings in the householder’s monthly bills.


Such savings can be substantial.  In fact, it’s expected that increasingly households will actually make money by creating their own surplus energy and selling it back to the grid.


The average household could save hundreds of pounds a year by following some simple energy saving tips.  Here are a few from the Grand Designs Great British Refurb website:


  • Turning your thermostat down by 1°C will cut your heating bill by up to 10%, saving you £50 a year
  • If your water’s too hot you’re wasting energy.  Set your boiler thermostat at 60°C/140°F
  • Turn lights off when leaving a room, don’t leave things on standby and don’t overcharge appliances.  This should save you £32 a year
  • Wait until washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers are full before using them
  • Use energy saving bulbs, which last up to ten times longer than ordinary bulbs.  Each bulb can save you £40 over its lifetime
  • In an uninsulated house 25% of heat is lost through the roof.  Insulating your loft is cheap and easy and will save you around £155 a year*
  • Houses built after 1920 usually have cavity walls.  Getting these filled is relatively cheap and can save you £120 a year*
  • Older houses without cavity walls can be given solid wall insulation.  This is more expensive, but could save you around £380 a year so may be worth it if you’re planning to stay put
  • Double glazing is expensive, but could save you £110 a year.  Secondary glazing is a cheaper alternative


For more tips and to find out how you can generate your own energy visit the Grand Designs Great British Refurb website.


* Government backed grants of at least 50% are available to all home owners and private tenants regardless of income.  For more information visit the Government Grants website.


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