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Investment in energy efficiency already paying off
The Wool Clip shop at Caldbeck is based in a converted traditional mill building alongside the Cold Beck river. After over 20 years in the Priest's Mill building, with energy bills of £3,000 per annum and likely to rise, the co-operative decided to tackle its energy efficiency. As well as the environmental benefits of reduced energy usage and a more comfortable working environment, the co-operative is also already seeing pay back on its investments in new equipment.
Jean Wildish, a member of the co-operative, led on the project, working with her husband, Arthur Charman. "We were very aware that the main comfort issue was for us, sitting in the shop all day," says Jean. "Our customers tend to come in well-wrapped and warm but the shop often feels cold to us, even in the summer months. We realised that it might be more about damp than the temperature."
"Jean and Arthur's work was all about improving our energy efficiency, keeping us warm when we're in the shop and reducing our bills. Of course, given what we make and sell, we were already wearing an extra sweater and woollen scarf when needed and we'd encourage our customers to do that too – we've lots of choice in the shop!"Ruth Strong, the current Chair of The Wool Clip co-operative
"We started out by programming a little gadget called a Tinytag data logger to measure and record the temperature and relative humidity in the shop at regular intervals, day and night. The results were a bit frightening but certainly worthwhile – it turned out that our four electric storage heaters were only raising the temperature in the shop by about 2 degrees above the ambient temperature. Even though we were using cheaper Economy 7 tariff, that still seemed a lot of cost for very little heating!"
With the information from the Tinytag, Jean and Arthur tackled a damp issue and focused on heating the people and not the building. They removed and recycled the four storage heaters and fitted two infra red panel heaters close to the payment desk where Wool Clip members usually sit.
"The new heaters are much cheaper to run and the heat is focused on heating us, not the space," says Jean. "We also invested in an industrial dehumidifier to tackle the damp, running it 24/7 at first but more recently cutting back so it's not running when the shop is open – it can be noisy."
That left two final easy measures to improve the energy efficiency even more: "We replaced fluorescent tube lighting with LED spotlights," says Jean, "and improved the draught proofing around the main door and desk. Not only are we all more comfortable when we're in the shop but the spotlights give better light and more options for showcasing our work."
Overall, The Wool Clip has invested just over £2,000 in energy efficiency improvements and saw its annual electricity bill fall from £3,000 to nearer £600. "That's a significant reduction in the energy that we're using," says Jean, "which has to be a good thing for the environment. Added to that, like everyone, we're aware that those bills will be going up significantly in the coming months. At least we now know we've done what we can to keep those costs manageable, even in an old stone building."
Ruth Strong, the current Chair of The Wool Clip co-operative agrees: "Jean and Arthur's work was all about improving our energy efficiency, keeping us warm when we're in the shop and reducing our bills. Of course, given what we make and sell, we were already wearing an extra sweater and woollen scarf when needed and we'd encourage our customers to do that too – we've lots of choice in the shop!"
Jean Wildish who worked on the energy efficiency with her husband, Arthur.
The replacement of four storage heaters with a couple of strategically placed infrared heaters is proving more efficient and more effective too.
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