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Originally posted on 25 May 2010

David Gray and his guests enjoying a break in front of South Yorkshire Energy Centre's solar wood-drying kiln.

I’ve been to the Energy House (South Yorkshire Energy Centre) lots of times. I even helped clean up the floor boards and strip paint from the old banister when it was being created from the home and bakery of John Dawson, pikelet and doughnut maker.  This time I came because I’d won a guided tour in the Sheffield Renewables Supporter Survey free prize draw.

The prize should have been a home visit from the Energy House’s guru and creator Nick Parsons, but he’d been to my house before and I knew he would only tell me to get my boiler replaced – excellent advice but I just can’t afford it at the moment.  Instead I took the alternative prize of an Energy House tour and brought along a few friends and colleagues.

I work for NAVCA, a national membership body for support and development organisations – charities like Voluntary Action Sheffield.  Two members of our Sustainable Development Group and a couple of other members of staff came. I also invited along some employees from Voluntary Action Sheffield, including a member of their environment group.  So there was a mixture of people who were interested in low energy living and those wanting to take a few ideas back to the office.

Nick was his usual exuberant self and explained things with passion yet simplicity.  He told us how keeping the heat in came before fancy heating systems and turbines on the roof along with the difference between solar electric and solar water. He even managed to keep our interest whilst explaining interstitial condensation and cold bridges (but don’t ask me to give you an explanation now!).

The curious thing about a visit to the Energy House is that however many times you go – and I’ve been a good few now – you always pick up something new.  This time it was about how the new feed-in tariff for solar electricity works. I’d love to have a solar panel on my roof… but first I have to replace that old boiler!

By David Gray, Supporter Survey Prize Winner

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