Patrick Waterfield “The Energy Efficient Home”

ISBN 978 1 86126 779 5. “The Energy Efficient Home – A Complete Guide” by Patrick Waterfield published by Crowood Press in 2007 (written in 2006). 150 pages excluding Glossary, Index and Resource sections at the rear. Like other books on this topic Patrick focuses a lot on the new build and self-build markets leaving the average DIYer scratching his/her head. As it will take a thousand years to completely replenish the UK housing stock then the biggest difference in the short term is retro-fit to existing stock. There is a short section on Fossil Fuel Depletion on page 9 that manages to be completely original in that it quotes Frederick Snoddy from 1922 discussing “capital energy” and “revenue energy”. This is fantastically obscure and unnecessarily so in our opinion. Most of Chapter 1 concerns the new build. This is interesting and well illustrated (true of the entire book). Chapter 2, on Insulation, is excellent but it would be nice to see some kind of ready-reckoner or rules of thumb for the lay man rather than relying upon the impenetrable mathematics of the U Value. Chapter 3, on Construction, is of academic interest to most of us. Chapters 4 and 5 cover windows, doors, conservatories and loft conversions, ie, more useful! Chapters 6, 7 & 9 hit pay-dirt with Heating, Hot Water, Renewable Energy and Lighting although pages 108 & 109 are quite mystifying as the author shows us how to calculate the “Daylight Factor”. At this point we kind of drift off into areas where Waterfield expresses more his personal opinion and inexperience. Chapter 8 deals with ventilation. On page 111 Patrick tells us to never dry your clothes on a radiator – instead you should get a tumble-drier. I am sure Chris Goodall would have an argument with this concerning the Carbon Footprint of Electricity versus Gas. Patrick’s prejudice against clothes on radiators is based on aesthetic reasons. There is no room for that sort of thing in a book like this. By chapter 10 we are into Household Appliances – a section largely based on some strange assertions. Patrick recommends we all go out an buy Hot Fill Washing Machines and Dishwashers. Of course this is impossible as no manufacturer makes such things any more. His recommendations for Household Gadgets completely misses out Energy Monitoring, remote Standby Isolation Devices and Energy Balancing systems. No mention whatsoever. Chapter 11 covers Legal and Planning Issues whilst Chapter 12 covers “Wider Environmental Issues”. The author is mostly comprehensive but he admits the work is based upon his own experience as a Consultant therefore it is a little personal in places. His recommendations for household appliances seems to be “don’t buy them stupid!”. Helpful. We all feel that way but there are more useful things to say if you are going to be taken seriously in print. A good book, occasionally wide of target but with some useful information. Treat it as a guide to be dipped into. However it will never come close to being as good as The Green building Bible. Tough competition indeed.

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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