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Civic Alliance Calls For End To Cold Homes ‘Blighting’ Scotland

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A powerful alliance of over 50 civic organisations is today calling on the Scottish Government to end the blight of Scotland’s draughty, unhealthy homes by 2025.

The group, ranging from the Church of Scotland to the Federation of Master Builders,   says the Scottish Government must take a long-term approach to improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s buildings. By doing so many benefits will be realised, including helping to reduce fuel poverty, cutting household fuel bills, lowering climate change emissions, creating jobs and preventing ill-health.

A key driver of cold homes is fuel poverty when people choose between heating and eating. According to the Scottish Government: “Between 2012 and 2013, fuel poverty increased by 4 percentage points from 35.2% to 39.1%. This represents an increase of around 100,000 households from the previous year, reaching 940,000 in 2013. Around 252,000 of these households (10.5%) were in extreme fuel poverty. This increase was driven by a 7% increase in fuel prices between 2012 and 2013.”

The Civic Alliance call follows an announcement in June 2015 from the Scottish Government that it intends to make home energy efficiency a National Infrastructure Priority. The groups are calling for the Scottish Government to set an ambitious goal for that project, by committing to a goal that by 2025 all homes in Scotland are at least an Energy Performance Certificate band ‘C’.

Alan Ferguson, Chair of the Existing Homes Alliance said: “It was great to see the Scottish Government’s commitment to make energy efficiency a National Infrastructure Priority.  This is vital if we as a nation are to end fuel poverty blighting our homes and step up to the challenge of climate change.  However, we now need to see concrete proposals and clear goals from the Scottish Government to make this happen. These should include a goal of helping all homes reach a C energy performance standard by 2025, and a commitment to major long-term funding to support investment in energy efficiency.

The National Records of Scotland Winter Mortality on Scotland report states: “Comparing the number of deaths in the four winter months with the average for the two adjacent four-month periods, the seasonal increase in mortality in winter 2013/14 was 1,600… [which] was around 400 below the corresponding value of 2,000 for winter 2012/13, and was the second lowest of any of the 63 winters for which such a figure has been calculated.”

Martin Crewe, Director of Barnardo’s Scotland said: “Too many children across Scotland are growing up in cold homes, with fuel poverty affecting four in every ten households. The comprehensive Marmot review [4] showed that this more than doubles their chances of suffering respiratory conditions like asthma, as well as impacting adversely on mental health, educational attainment and emotional wellbeing. Supporting all homes to reach a C standard will improve the physical and emotional health of families across Scotland and help to improve the life chances of Scotland’s most vulnerable children.”

Housing conditions are the other driver. A Scottish Government report on the state of Scottish housing stock identified that: “between 2012 and 2013 there was a 3 points drop in basic disrepair from 81% to 78% of dwellings in Scotland. Extensive disrepair remained similar to 2012 levels, at 7% in Scotland overall.”

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary said: “Improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes is a huge opportunity to build a stronger economy and a more just Scotland. Research shows that bringing all homes up to at least a C energy performance standard would create 8-9,000 jobs a year distributed across communities in Scotland, new training and skills development opportunities and offer an excellent return on investment in generating employment and economic growth compared to other infrastructure investments.”

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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