“The Energy Saving House” by Thierry Salomon & Stéphane Bedel

ISBN 1-89804-935-1. “The Energy Saving House” by Thierry Salomon & Stéphane Bedel. This Book was published by the French “Eco-Centre” known as “Terre Vivante” and was adapted for the UK by CAT after purchasing the rights at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2001. A lot of the technology in the book is rather more suited to a Northern Mediterranean climate than our colder Northern European one. Hence the CAT edition went through some heavy rewriting. There is a lot of mention of Nuclear Power Stations throughout this slim book (142 pages) which also betrays its French origins. At points it makes you wonder if CAT regretted this decision as it may have been easier to start from scratch. Another oddity of this work is that it was backed by Friends of the Earth who we guess supplied some funding for the project. Both the original authors are engineers specialising in renewables. The first half of the books is little more than a primer for anyone wishing to build their own home as these sections largely deal with house design. For the vast majority of us who can do little about the aspect or design of our house this offers little useful advice. Few of us are about to rip up our floors to install underfloor heating. The section of Air Conditioning struggles to have any relevance in the UK. From the middle of the book we get on to simpler changes that can be retrofitted. There are a few interesting details about items most of us are already familiar with, such as light bulbs and plumbing fittings. However, there is almost nothing new here that you can’t read about in a dozen other books. A very strange omission from the book is the near complete non-mention of Ground Source Heat Pumps. There is a brief mention of a “geothermal underfloor heating” which looks like a translation error. The layout of the book is pleasant and it is easy to read. However the scatter-gun effect of having lots of panels all over the page when the pages are so small is a little distracting. The foot notes should also have been at the back as they get in the way. There is a reasonably good resource section at the back and it is jammed with interesting facts and figures. However I would probably not recommend this to the UK audience or beginners. Getting hold of the Chris Goodall book is the best starting place in this more northerly position. Considering the cover price of £12 GBP this is also grossly over-priced for its tiny size. A small book can be good for someone who would be put off by a more mighty tome, but unless you are really interested in the maths, statistics, science & engineering, then this won’t enlighten you. It would gather dust in a drawer. A wasted opportunity for FOE.

About post-carbon-man

A passionate advocate of a peaceful transition to a sustainable political-economy, Mark hails from a working class farming background. Today he is a Company Director and Chairman of the Low Carbon Chilterns Co-operative. Whilst at University (Engineering Masters) he was active in Conservative Student politics but has had no affiliation since. He has travelled widely on business covering the USA, Europe, Middle East and Central Asian Republics. In 2007 Mark founded Post-Carbon-Living and a year later co-founded Transition Town High Wycombe. He lives with is wife & daughter in a home they retrofitted to be carbon-neutral. Today he blogs about surviving politics on a shrinking planet and is passionate in his rejection of Nationalism.

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