Environmentalists, including KEF, promote conserving energy by making our homes and work-places cosier and more energy-efficient, and in producing energy sustainably and locally. Various KEF members are taking action on both fronts: organising tours of green homes, hosting events and workshops on warmer homes and renewable energy, encouraging the Council and other public buildings to install solar PV panels, offering advice and energy audits...
See also statements and information on light pollution, for example https://e-voice.org.uk/kef/assets/documents/kbn-statement-on-lighting, in our Biodiversity and Green Spaces section, as this, as well as being harmful to wildlife, is often wasted energy.
Below are links to useful member groups and summaries of KEF and KEF members' events and actions, the most recent at the top.
Transition Town Kingston Energy Group: current activities include working with SWLEN’s Smart Communities and giving advice to property owners, mainly about energy-efficiency and the installation of PV solar panels. Members are also trialling OpenTRV, a sophisticated radiator valve that promises large energy savings, invented by Damon of the Energy Group. In 2014 Kingston Council awarded TTK Energy Group a grant of £1000 to buy a thermal imaging camera, which enables volunteers to show homes and businesses exactly where they are losing heat, and then advise them how to fix the leaks. With TTK, they have run several public events, listed on their web-page, and for a while ran Kingston Community Energy, a not-for-profit cooperative enterprise with the aim of installing solar PV arrays on the roofs of community buildings.
Teddington & Ham Hydro: KEF supports this renewable energy project in our neighbouring borough Richmond. Teddington & Ham Hydro is a planned renewable scheme based on the installation of three hydro power turbines on the River Thames at Teddington Weir. The Teddington & Ham Hydro team believes that we, as a community, should be taking local action to make a contribution towards combating climate change and generating decentralised renewable energy. The flow over Teddington Weir allows for the possibility of generating clean, renewable energy.
Things to consider when buying solar panels from Kingston Green e-Directory
Lighting in public spaces
Cut costs, save energy, and reduce crime – what’s not to like?
Article first published in KingstOn community newsletter (RBK), November 2012
Councils all over England are considering switching off or dimming some street lights to save money, though almost nothing seems to provoke more controversy than lighting in public places. Environmentalists and star-gazers worry about wasted energy, light pollution and the effects on wildlife, while late night joggers and dog-walkers complain if their favourite route is dark and apparently dangerous, householders are anxious about increased crime and anti-social behaviour if their road is not well lit, and shops hope that their brightly illuminated windows are good advertising.
Of course road junctions and many streets and well used pathways do need good lighting for a large part of the night for safety reasons, and good lighting can be energy-efficient, but does everywhere need to be brightly lit all night? Who is walking the dog or window-shopping in the early hours of the morning, and don’t tax-payers and consumers end up paying for all that unnecessary light?
The good news is that new designs and low-energy bulbs can save energy while maintaining safe levels of light. There are now LED bulbs for most situations including shop windows, and Kingston Council is in the process of replacing a high proportion of local street lighting with energy-efficient lights that focus the light downwards where it is needed and so cause less light pollution. Kingston residents whose entire houses used to be bathed in the orange glare of old-fashioned sodium street lights and are now discreetly lit by the new white street lights will probably approve.
More surprising is the potential for reducing crime by switching off some street lights in the early hours of the morning. A report last year in The Bristol Post proclaimed that “Police in the Bristol area have made a startling discovery – burglars are scared of the dark. Crime has gone down in some areas... since street lights have been turned off during the night, because thieves apparently need the light to carry out their crimes.” Bristol councillors are pleased with the savings on electricity bills and crime rates that have gone down as much as 50% in some areas. Other local authorities report similar findings, and the Local Government Association, which represents more than 400 councils in England and Wales, said cutting lighting can save money “without reducing public safety”, though local police and residents should be consulted first.
We recently heard that Kingston Police would like estate agents Foxton's to switch off their lights at night to avoid late night clubbers and revellers gathering and obstructing the pavement beside their brightly and wastefully illuminated windows.
A local case study
We at St Paul’s recently took the opportunity to replace some dangerous old lighting with some wonderful new low-energy lights. For about £58,000 we now have lights that use a third less energy, last longer, and can be pre-set and individually controlled (even remotely by their designer from his home in Banbury!). In addition the building has been illuminated to a higher standard than before, bringing out features that had been lost. We have also taken the opportunity of installing reflective panels behind our radiators to improve thermal efficiency, a much more modest scheme costing just £100. We are not finished yet as we are now considering solar PV for our next energy project.
Peter Watson, verger, St Paul's, Kingston Hill
Bat Conservation Trust on lighting: "Bats are nocturnal animals and are adapted to low-light conditions. This means that most bat species can find artificial lighting to be very disturbing. Artificial lights shining on bat roosts, their access points and the flight paths away from the roost must always be avoided."