Cambodian Motorcycles

July 29, 2008

Just back from Cambodia and have been thinking a lot about their use of motorcycles. Now while I would accept that they only use them for economic reasons, not environmental ones, perhaps we could all learn a lesson from it.

I mean folloowing on from my post on encouraging people to cycle, and the feedback I recived regarding hills, laziness, and speed… well these guys would do eliminate all those issues, while still providing most of the benefits of a regular bike.

I’ll work on quantifying the benefits soon

Note: I’m not promoting that anyone drive like Cambodians… They are mental…

Energy Saving Tips – Switch off

July 18, 2008

Most modern cars are really efficiency at starting and stopping. That means that if you are stopping the car, it can be worthwhile to actually switch off the engine. Guidance from SEI says that for a 30 second stop it can be worthwhile switching off.

For other car tips check out

Energy Saving Driving Tips – Summer Driving Season 1 Tyre Pressure

Energy Saving Driving Tips 2 – Close the windows

Energy Saving Driving Tips 3 – Take Off Roof Racks/Boxes

National Road Pricing Scheme – Motor Tax

I like cool drinks – most energy efficient option

July 15, 2008

I’m a fan of having my drinks cold, and have been trying to figure out what is the most energy efficient way to do it. As I see it the options are

Leave the bottle in the fridge

This is a good option because the refrigerator is relatively efficient when compared to the freezer.

The drawback (perhaps) is that you will be keeping a large amount of the liquid (lets say pepsi max… I’m not a coke man) cool for a long time, when you really only need it cool at the time your drinking it.

Use ice cubes

Ice-cubes have the benefit of meaning you have less in the fridge, and so are trying to keep less cool. I mean keeping air cool is less challenging than liquid. Also they give greater flexibility on what drink you may want cooled.

The main drawback is that the freezer is relatively less efficient than fridge (since the bigger the difference between room temperature and the target temperature, the more energy required to achieve it)

At the moment I’m beginning to think leaving the bottle in the fridge is the correct option (which I never do), but I’m interested in getting other suggestions.

Irish Home Energy Scheme – Grants for Insulation

July 11, 2008

The post your looking for is here

Following up from my post on the HES scheme (a scheme that grant aids insulation, windows, draft proofing etc), could I alert people that the pilot scheme is still running. Following all that cuts talk from the government earlier this week, I suggest to all this blog’s readers that they apply to the scheme now, as it may not be around in January

Fuel Consumption Comparison

July 8, 2008

Driving fast requires much more energy, or burns more fuel, than driving at slower speeds. But more grown is covered, so that makes up the extra consumption… right? Wrong…

Most cars are set up to give optimal efficiency at 80kmph (50mph). So… if you were to drive at 80kmph without speeding up or slowing down, you would get maximum efficiency. I know that I really notice it on a motorway I drive regularly where the speed limit is 120kmph (75mph), but here are the stats on how different it is.


Fuel Consumption









For other car tips check out

Energy Saving Driving Tips – Summer Driving Season 1 Tyre Pressure

Energy Saving Driving Tips 2 – Close the windows

Energy Saving Driving Tips 3 – Take Off Roof Racks/Boxes

National Road Pricing Scheme – Motor Tax

Regulations for Energy Efficiency in Houses

July 6, 2008

Ireland and the UK have regulations which control all sorts of things in new homes. From security to fire to accessibility for the disabled, are controlled by these regulations. Part L (yes there are also Parts A-M) relates to the conservation of fuel and energy.

So… What does it have to say about insulation…

Well first of all look my post on U-Values

Then have a look at this pic…

So what’s interesting about that? Well have a look the number for a window, it 2, versus a wall, which is 0.27. The regulations for a window is a 7 times higher than a wall. So in a new house, it all about your windows… All about them…

For the full document have a look at this

What are Building Energy Ratings – BER

July 4, 2008

Ireland, like most of the EU is implementing the Building Energy Rating (BER)Scheme, (also know as the Energy Performance of Building Directive (EPBD)). The idea of the scheme is that when you are buying or renting a house or apartment, you should be informed of how it performs from an energy point of view. On the other hand, it means that to sell/rent a house/apartment, you are obliged to have the house assessed and a BER certificate prepared for it.

So what’s in the assessment, well the idea is to include the main elements that control the houses energy consumption, but leaving out the things which depend on the user (as when you are buying/renting, it doesn’t matter that the last guy left the window open, or which TV he had), so really we’re talking about the fabric of the house, and the heating system.

The assessor will measure the walls, the roof, the windows, the floor, the door, chimneys, vents, etc, apply the relevant U-Value or air flow values, and from that generate a heat load for the house (assuming 2.4 occupants or something like that, who expect an average amount or heating/hot water). They will also look at the boiler and decide if it efficient.

From that relatively small amount of information a figure for the likely energy consumption of the house is generated, and rated according to a simple A-G scale. Buyers/Renters get to see the rating when deciding if they want to buy… and BOOM… energy is a consideration when houses are changing hands.

What else?

Well the other really cool thing, is that the report that goes with the certificate will tell you of what measures can be taken to improve the performance of the house… cool

What does it not do/do badly?

  • It doesn’t take into account the way people use their house (but should it?)
  • It doesn’t concern itself with consumer electronics, kitchen electrics, outside lighting
  • Generally speaking the assessor will be applying rule of thumb figures to decide U-values of the walls and floors. These will be based on the age of the house, and a little table of what type of wall structures etc were common at different times. You could have Thermal Imaging camera in to get a more accurate read, but that would cost €€€.
  • There is no enforcement to make you improve the building, its just a scheme to let you know how good/bad your building is.
  • The rating is in M2, so really big house could score well, despite requiring a lot of energy to heat.

What is U-Value

July 2, 2008

U-Value is a measure of how much heat will escape through a material, or how bad an insulator a material is. So materials with high U-values let lots of heat through them – Copper would be an example. Materials with low U-Values don’t let heat pass through them, and so can be used to insulate a space. Material wool is a good example. The ideal insulator has a U-value of 0.

The science-y bit: U-Value is the heat (in Watts) lost through one metre square of the material (for a given thickness) per degree Kelvin (or C). The unit is W/m2K

Not to be mistaking for


Americans use R-Value, which is a measure of insulating properties, and so the reverse of U-Value.

Tog Value

Similar to R-Value, used in quilts