Archive for April, 2012

April 23, 2012

Hosepipe Ban – a Permanent Feature for UK Summers?

Those who live in the South East of England are surely familiar with the term: hosepipe ban. These summer-long bans are more and more common due to the lack of rainfall in recent years, which led to a record number of droughts and half-full reservoirs.

Also, population density is very high in this region and some parts of England are so dry, that even Sydney’s annual rainfall is double than that of London. According to some statistics, these bans could save up to 900 litres of water per hour.

When hosepipe bans are in place, residents mustn’t wash their cars, windows, water plants, and
they shouldn’t fill paddling pools or ponds, nor cleaning paths and patios – using the hosepipe.
Exemptions are offered for the disabled, and water companies may have slightly differing rules
from each other. Fines can reach up to £1000 if caught breaking the regulations.

But do hosepipe bans really help?
While surely many people think twice before opening taps when a hosepipe ban is ordered and may feel threatened by the potential fine, it’s down to the neighbours to notify the authorities – as water companies don’t have the money or resources for this.
Also, using buckets for either home car washes or filling pools is not forbidden, which may
mean that great amount of water is still used but it’s less likely to be wasted by leaving the hosepipe on.

Water saving is an important issue for the future of the UK, especially in the South East. This is one reason why water companies are rolling out water meter systems in this area. Paying for the exact amount of water used could not only lower current bills but can also help in conserving water, so there may not be a need for hosepipe bans in the future.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

April 17, 2012

Living in a Container

As the world’s population has now reached seven billion, space for housing is becoming scarce, and the amount of household junk collected by us is increasing, some innovative architects decided the combine the good with the useful.

According to some figures there are more than thirty million unused containers piled up in ports all around the world as shipping companies or the owners don’t have the money to send them back to their origin. These containers however are great for accommodation – according to some creative experts.

‘Container housing’ can be a solution for disaster-striken areas, as these ‘boxes’ resist strong winds and can be a safe shelter. One of the flagship initiatives in this area is the SEED
Project, by researchers of the Clemson University.

Some architects want to make containers more attractive for trendsetters and have come up with unique and stylish designs.

These containers have many advantages: besides being durable they are also ‘scalable’, cheap and easy to move.

In the Ukraine and in Kyrgyzstan there are already whole shopping malls developed from shipping containers, which could also serve as ideal offices spaces.

Travelodge, for example, used 86 containers to build a hotel in Uxbridge, London, which
looks just like a normal hotel made of bricks. 

The construction process was faster than normal
and very cost-effective. Also, thanks to the interior decoration guests may not even notice that
they are staying in a container.

Re-cycling unused containers is a great way to save space and waste, and who wouldn’t want
to live in some of these contemporary ‘flats’?

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

Image: Verbus Systems

April 13, 2012

Desalination in the UK

Desalination is usually associated with hot dry countries without any rivers and hardly any rain, like

Australia or the Middle East. In fact, the UK’s first desalination plant was built in London in 2010 and soon it will start its full-capacity operation. 

The Thames Gateway in Beckton treats the water of the Thames and the sea to supply water to Londoners, providing some great results so far during the test phase.

In the plant salty and fresh water from the tidal river is mixed and salt is filtered out via reverse osmosis, applying high pressure on water, which is thus squeezed through fine membranes. Compared to an average of fifty per cent, efficiency of the plant is at 85 per cent, which means that
85 per cent of all water entering the facility can be returned as drinking water.
Furthermore, the water is so clean after the treatment that it even has to be artificially altered to
provide the same taste as what people are used to. It can supply 400,000 households, which means about one million people could start drinking
seawater thanks to this plant.

The plant is mainly to be used during long-term drought, which is very timely, as hosepipe bans in the South East have become more and more frequent. Just recently water companies announced a new ban with fines of thousands of pounds for simply washing the car at home.

Drawbacks of desalination plants include that the process itself is very expensive as well as energy-intensive but new methods are being tested and trialled on how these can be reduced. However, regardless of how many new technologies emerge, improving how we save water at home is still the key solution.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

Image by noomhh

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