Kate Humble challenges six families to cut the amount of energy they use by 30 per cent in just three weeks. Energy monitors have been installed in every home.
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This looks like a typical street
that could be anywhere in the country, but this place is special.
With energy bills going through the roof,
the residents here have agreed
to take part in a unique challenge.
They're going to try and slash their gas and electricity consumption
by a whopping 30% in just three weeks.
Can they do it?
The challenge is to try and cut not just your bills,
but also your general consumption.
And we have set that challenge, it's quite tough, at 30%.
-We have with us an energy sustainability expert, Dr Alan Owen.
Alan has had a good look at your houses in this street.
They're all quite modern houses, Alan,
so presumably they're relatively energy efficient, are they?
-No, not particularly.
-Why is that?
Poorly insulated...is the main thing, either floors, lofts, walls.
To demonstrate how poorly the houses are insulated and where the heat is being lost,
Dr Owen has brought energy technician, Gordon, along
to Bill and Mi Yong's house.
So what we are going to do now is we're going to do the thermal-imaging test.
Gordon's taping up the vents and he's also sealing up the front door.
The idea is that we seal the areas which might leak.
So what we're looking to do is to pressurise the house
and try and force the warm air which is inside the house
out through any gaps.
A thermal-imaging camera is used to detect the infrared radiation coming from the house.
They've had the heating on all morning, so if there are any leaks
they should show up as a bright white image on the screen.
There's some slight leakage at the bottom of the door there
where there's maybe a gap at the bottom of the frame.
And you can see that change in temperature.
I've been looking at this area above at the eaves,
-that's showing me that there's a lot of air coming out here.
So there is a lot of air getting in through your attic space which should be cold.
The gaps in the house are allowing the warm air to escape through convection.
What the thermal-imaging camera doesn't tell us
is how big a volume of warm air is leaving the building.
To find that out, Gordon is going to fill the house with theatrical smoke.
If there are any gaps, they'll be able to see the smoke escaping.
Ohh! Oh, look!
It's pouring out of this end wall.
-But how is it getting up into the eaves?
-It's making its way out
through gaps and cracks in the structure, into the cavity wall,
and then from there it then comes out through roof spaces and vents in the wall.
And all that air will carry heat with it.
I would guess for the cost of probably three or four tubes of mastic,
you could save somewhere between £180 and £300 a year in gas.
Bill, I think it looks like you're going to have
-a very, very busy weekend, darling.
-Thank you for that, Alan.
As part of this challenge,
we've installed energy monitors inside their homes
and Dr Owen has been monitoring their data remotely for the past couple of weeks.
So 30%, guys. And to help you, we've got Lucy Conway here.
-Now Lucy lives on the island of Eigg which is totally off grid, is that right?
-Yes, that's right.
We generate all our own electricity,
so it means that we're very careful with how much electricity we use.
Lucy is going to be on hand over the next three weeks
to give you lots of tips and tricks on how you can save energy.
And, as you know, our team have been filming with you over the last few weeks.
Well, let's have a look at what some of you have been up to.
How proud are you of your fridge, Norman. That's spectacular!
Oh, and another one! ALL LAUGH
Do you have any idea how much running those fridges and freezers costs in a year?
-It's £180 a year just on your fridges.
-Just on the fridges?!
Fridge freezers are on 24 hours a day,
7 days a week,
so choosing an energy-efficient one could save money.
Look for the energy rating label.
The ratings are based on fridges of the same size.
If the electricity tariff is around 15 pence per kWh,
these are the average annual running costs of a 253 litre fridge.
-Jill, how many times do you put the kettle on a day?
-Quite a lot.
I put the kettle on and then get waylaid by, normally, a child,
so I'll probably click it on a few times before I actually make myself a cup of tea.
On average a UK household
boils the kettle a staggering 1,500 times a year.
With an energy tariff of around 15p per kWh...
this will cost £26.
This is how it compares to a dishwasher,
desktop computer and microwave.
-That is a huge telly.
-That is a huge telly. Is this a plasma telly?
-Yeah. They're huge energy guzzlers.
Televisions can be the most power hungry of all entertainment appliances,
but plasmas are the worst offenders.
With an energy tariff of around 15p per kWh...
a CRT TV using 119kWh
costs £18 per year.
An LCD TV using 199kWh
costs £30 per year.
And a plasma using 658kWh
costs a huge £101 per year.
Why did you go for such a big telly?
-It was the biggest we could find.
-It was a competition.
-It was a competition?
-What with the neighbours?
Before they try to cut their energy use,
I want them to understand just how much energy
it takes to power a simple domestic appliance.
I've invited Colin Tonks along to the street,
who's using bicycles to set up a mini power station.
I know you take these bikes all over the place to schools, to festivals,
what are you hoping to demonstrate?
Well, I'm hoping to demonstrate to people just how much energy it takes to power everyday objects.
The first question we ask is, where does energy come from?
-Some people will say it comes from the plug socket.
And that gives us the opportunity to engage people
and say, "No, there's all these different fossil fuels
"that we have to burn before we can actually consume this resource."
Is a kettle something that even our wonderful, energetic Stonehaven residents
would be able to power with a bicycle?
-I'd like a cup of tea, so...
-Are you up for it?
Yes? OK, well, I think to be kind to you,
we'll start with just one cup.
One cup of water, Jill. So we'll stick that in a kettle.
The street will need to use their own steam
to get this kettle to a boiling point of 100 degrees Celsius.
One, two, three. Go!
You can do it!
Jill, I want you in here.
How often do you boil your kettle every day, do you think?
Ten, 15 times a day.
-Come on, I'm parched!
-Are they ever going to do it?
If everyone in the UK only boiled the water they needed to make a cuppa,
in one year we would have saved enough energy
to power the UK's street lights for two months.
94! 95! 96!
98! Final push! Come on!
-Yes! It's clicked! You've done it!
-Well done, everybody.
12 people pedalling for seven minutes
has resulted in one tiny cup of tea.
It's been a lot of fun, but will it
make Jill think more seriously about her kettle?
Was that a bit of a shocker for you?
It was, really, to see how much energy it actually needs.
Six families are being challenged
to cut their energy use by 30% in just three weeks.
To motivate them, I'm sending them to the town of Lockerbie
to see what's behind
some of the most energy-efficient homes in the country.
It's these houses that we hope are going to inspire our Stonehaven residents.
They're known as "passive houses"
and the best thing for the people who live in them
is that their energy bills are a fraction of the national average.
I can tell you, on average
you're paying over £1,700 for your energy bills a year.
Let's see...what the difference is with the people living here.
So shall we go over?
-Who lives in this house with you?
-There's me and there's three girls with me.
So, presumably, that means you've got girls...using hairdryers
and computers and all the regular things.
-Yeah. Yeah, plenty.
-Yeah. What about central heating?
-We don't have central heating.
-Right. OK. And is it cold in there?
-No, not at all. No, the opposite.
-Do you believe her?
Can I ask you to reveal what you pay a year
for all your energy consumption?
Right, this is all my electricity.
So on top of this, I use some logs but not a lot.
And this is £538 for the whole year.
So we need to find out
-how you can pay, really, a fraction of what these guys are paying.
The man to tell us is Thomas Froehlich,
who helped build this low-cost rental housing.
-The house is orientated as much as you can towards the sun...to make use of the sun heating the house.
They had to be super well-insulated and we have virtually draught-free houses.
And the remainder of the heat in the house is virtually provided by people themselves
-and kettles and...
-So the heat is generated
-by Rosie, her three girls and the appliances that she uses.
Now that sounds like a heavenly idea. It's brilliant!
-Well, Rosie, if you're brave enough to let in the Stonehaven rabble...
In you go, guys. Shoes off, please.
On the roof, Rosie has solar panels to heat her water,
and inside there's a log burner that does the same job if there's no sun.
This also acts as a back-up heat source.
-It's lovely and cosy in here, isn't it?
Inside Rosie's house it's already 20 degrees.
Let's see if we can warm it up even further.
So all the kids, you're all going to become heat generators.
When I say "go", all the boys are going to run up the stairs, quick as you can.
And then all the girls are going to run down the stairs. Three, two, one. Go!
The children are running up and down, getting hot,
and hopefully increasing the temperature of the house.
To do that it needs to be airtight, so the heat doesn't escape.
Rosie, are there any downsides of having to live in a sort of airtight house?
-Oh, yeah. We can't have a cat flap, actually.
And same for the letter box, we just have a box on the wall outside the house.
Thomas is there anything practical that any of them,
or indeed anyone, can do to make their house more energy efficient?
Apply insulation on the house, in the roof and all that.
So this must be the first approach because that's the lasting one.
It wouldn't make sense to just put solar panels on the house,
-because you would just replace lost energy with renewable energy.
And so energy conservation goes before energy creation.
And everyone in the living room.
When we came in the temperature was 20 degrees.
I can now reveal that the temperature has gone up to...
-And it has cost Rosie absolutely nothing.
We have to charge you now!
The heat we've generated is drawn into these vents in the ceiling.
It then flows into this clever contraption in Rosie's utility room, a heat-recovery system.
The warm air we've generated is used to heat up fresh cooler air coming in from outside.
The fresh warm air can then be circulated into every room in the house.
And all that free heat will continue to be recycled long after we've gone,
because it cannot escape through cracks and gaps in the walls.
On average, well over half the money we spend on fuel bills
goes towards heating our homes and providing hot water.
One way to cut that figure is to
harness the power of the sun.
But this is Stonehaven on the east coast of Scotland.
It's April and its two degrees outside.
Can solar energy make much of an impact here?
Engineering expert, Marty Jopson, has come to show the families on this street
how to make a little bit of sun work hard for them.
What we're going to do is we're going to build a solar air heater.
OK, let's have your cans on the table.
We need to turn all these cans...into a long tube of cans.
So the first thing we need to do is knock holes in the bottom.
What we're going to do is we're going to glue these all together and make a long tube.
Right so that'll take a while to dry, but what we have to do next...
-Is paint it, exactly.
-Cos it has to be...
What we want is we want it to be
completely matt black, so it will
trap as much heat as possible.
Whilst that's drying, do you want to come in and I'll show you what we've got inside?
-Yes, lots of cans.
The black cans absorb the light and the heat from the sun.
The heat travels to the inside of the cans by conduction, where it warms the air.
Convection causes the air to rise through the metal cans,
bringing cool air in from the bottom to be heated.
This free heated air is then fed to the house.
So, there you go, all finished.
MUSIC: "Walking On Sunshine" by Katrina & The Waves
We've got a bit of sun, so...I'm hopeful.
The temperature out here is currently...six degrees.
What do you reckon the temperature in here has got to?
-What do you reckon?
-It has got to 76.6 degrees centigrade.
-Is that hot?
-OK, that's just up here right at the top.
-That is amazing!
And rising as we speak. It's ferociously hot up here.
So I'm going to send half of you indoors and we'll give you a walkie-talkie
and you can then relay the temperature to us.
Oh, wow! It's amazing! It's really hot, girls.
This is, what, 80 degrees, something like that.
In there they're getting 27-30 degrees.
-What do you reckon?
-This is great.
It's free...and it's working a lot better than I thought it was going to work.
The sun is not the only free source of energy,
wind is another natural resource that can be harnessed to power appliances.
Engineering expert, Marty Jopson, wants to show the families how this can be done.
So, what we're going to do is we're going to make a wind turbine.
And I thought we would try and power something
fairly straightforward and simple like a blender.
We're going to use a bike wheel, right?
This is just an ordinary wheel off a bicycle.
And we can turn this into a wind turbine
with the aid of a bit of tape. That's all we need.
That's our wind turbine.
And that should do the job.
Marty is connecting the home-made wind turbine to the blender
using a bicycle chain and gears.
It's fixed to a wooden post, so that it sits up high to catch the wind.
So the wind turns this, turns the chain, chain turns that...
90 degrees into our mixer.
We're going to take this down to the beach. There's good wind on the beach,
cos it's uninterrupted coming off the sea. Who wants a milkshake?
Come on, then, let's go down the beach.
The wind has got what's known as kinetic energy, right,
so this is the energy of movement.
So some of the kinetic energy of the wind
is turned into rotational kinetic energy of the wheel,
which moves the chains and we get kinetic energy through to here from here.
So we're capturing that kinetic energy.
The wheel's spinning round, but at the moment there's no load on it.
So we've not attached the chain yet, that's the next thing,
and the question is, will it spin with the chain on?
-Right, shall we hook it up?
It's picking up speed.
Well, it's turning!
So, let's just see what the wind speed is that we've actually got.
About...10mph wind here.
-Even we can blow faster than that.
-Exactly, even we can blow faster than this.
I have a cunning plan.
Stand back! Stand back.
CHEERING Are we getting...?
Who wants a milkshake?
So, I think what this has proven is that if you want to run a 350-watt blender,
you need more wind...even than this and a much bigger wind turbine.
With just three weeks to slice a massive 30% off their energy consumption,
the families in this street need all the help they can get.
Energy expert, Lucy Conway, is on her way to offer some tips.
Jill loves her big wooden floors,
but because there's uninsulated concrete underneath,
valuable heat is being lost through conduction.
The average is round about ten to 15% heat loss through the floor.
Your floor could lose about 35% of the heat.
When we get visitors, we always say
bring your slippers because the floors are cold.
This little gizmo measures the temperature of...anything you point it at, really.
The floor is 18.6 degrees centigrade.
If we point it at the rug...
..you get 19.6.
So it's a degree warmer on the rug than it is on the floor.
Lucy has a plan to solve the problem of Jill's chilly floors.
So can you give me a hand bringing these into the living room?
-What do you think your mum will make of these?
-They won't go with her lounge.
They won't go with her lounge. Oh, no!
-That looks absolutely awful now.
It's not my taste at all.
You will save between four and six percent on your energy bills just by having rugs down.
I'll keep them down to see if it helps...
-for the rest of the challenge.
-We'll see how it goes for the rest of the week.
-It's increased the floor temperature by over a degree already.
Others on the street are also discovering how important it is to prevent heat loss.
We all realised pretty quick that insulation was the way to go.
It's nice and cheap and it can be quick.
So I've been working my way round the house insulating things and the next one is the loft hatch.
Effective draught proofing around windows and doors can save around £30 per year.
Norman's hot water tank is uninsulated,
which means it's losing valuable heat every day.
-Right, this is the hot water jacket, which costs about £10...
..and will save you about £50 a year.
It reduces the heat loss by 75%.
I didn't realise it would save you so much money. Just something so simple and so cheap.
Poor insulation causes needless energy waste.
These are the approximate savings
that could be made per year with improved insulation.
A grand total of £560,
which is over a third of the average annual UK household energy bill.
However, you do have to take into account how much it costs
to install these measures in the first place.
Reducing heat loss is one way to cut down on energy use,
but it's not the only way.
I got a marker pen and I measured two cups,
cos it's only Peter and I that actually have a cup of tea or coffee.
-But I'm quite impressed with my little mark.
-I'm very impressed.
Now Jill is only using the energy she needs to boil the kettle.
Bill and Mi Yong also need tips on how to save energy.
So how about moving the telly
to make this beautiful light room even lighter.
-That's free energy from the sun.
I'm quite happy not having TV down here at all.
-Now there's a radical idea, Bill.
-It's not just the TV,
it's the stereo system and the sub-woofer and everything else.
It took me ages to set this up!
Lucy's off to see how Sheila's changing her energy habits.
Before the challenge started, we had the thermostat set to between 21 and 22,
so it's now between 18 and 19.
Turning down the thermostat by just one degree can save around £65 pounds a year.
However, Sheila needs to do more than just turn down her thermostat.
This is a household that loves a long shower.
Lucy's got some tips to save water and money.
So the plan is we're going to fill this bucket
-and see how many litres it takes in a minute.
-So each line here is a litre.
-So we can work out
-how much water you're using in a minute in the shower.
-And then we can work out how much energy that is.
Three, two, one.
-So I think that's about five litres of water in a minute.
The bad news is if you were to have a 32-minute shower,
which I believe somebody in this household did the other day,
-that would be 160 litres.
-That's a huge amount.
-It's two bathfuls.
-Oh, is it?
If two people take showers that last 32 minutes every day,
over the course of a year the pennies soon add up.
-Really?! Just for showers?
Just for two showers, two 32-minute showers a day.
-Oh, dear! We need to do something.
Lucy's leaving Sheila with a shower timer, which will help her make the savings she needs.
Next, she's back to see Norman about his fridges.
Pop a piece of paper in like that.
And if you can pull the paper out that easily,
then your seals aren't working properly.
-So have a look at your seals.
You may find they just need cleaning, or you can get replacement seals.
Loose seals mean lost energy...and money.
Before she leaves, Lucy's making one last visit to Bill and Mi Yong's
to see if they've been persuaded to move their huge telly away from the window.
-Hello! You've got a very different living room.
-Yes, it is.
-Look at this! It's amazing!
It is, isn't it?
So you've moved the telly and you've pulled up the blinds. What's it like?
When your blinds were down and the window was full of television,
you were losing 70% of all that free, sunny solar heat
that was coming into your living room.
-When you think about it now...
-How stupid was it?
-Does it sound really stupid?
It's results day.
Time for energy and sustainability expert, Dr Alan Owen,
to reveal if the families have managed to cut
the amount of gas and electricity they use by 30% and save money.
So, this is it...the results are in.
Alan, do you want to tell us how the whole street did?
The whole street achieved a saving between them
That is incredible!
So your challenge was to save 30%. You have absolutely blitzed that!
I think a huge round of applause.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Kate Humble challenges six families to cut the amount of energy they use by 30 per cent in just three weeks. Energy monitors have been installed in every home, and Dr Alan Owen, sustainability director from Robert Gordon University, monitors and records all their energy use. As inspiration, they visit the town of Lockerbie to find out about some of the most energy-efficient homes in the country. Energy-saving expert Lucy Conway is on hand to highlight wasteful energy habits and help with tips and advice on how to save. The One Show's engineering expert Marty Jopson demonstrates renewable energy by showing them how to harness energy from the sun and the wind.
Find out if the families manage to meet the 30 per cent target within the three week deadline and if they change their energy wasting ways.