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Science
COSTING THE EARTH
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Thursday 21:00-21:30
Repeat Friday 15:00
Costing the Earth tells stories which touch all our lives, looking at man's effect on the environment and at how the environment reacts. It questions accepted truths, challenges the people in charge and reports on progress towards improving the world we live in.
LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 20 April
PRESENTER
TOM HEAP
Tom Heap
PROGRAMME DETAILS
Thursday 20 April 2006
Tom and his chimney balloon
There's no shortage of weird and wonderful ways to cut your fuel bills.

Slash Your Bills

Tom Heap has a dream. He wants to turn his family's new home into a paragon of energy efficiency. As gas bills leap another 25% every household in the country should be looking for ways to cut their energy use. In the first of a new series of 'Costing the Earth' we follow Tom as he cuts through the science and the sales talk in search of affordable ways to ease your impact on the planet and slash your bills.

Tom has just bought a rambling, rather unloved, cottage near Rugby in Warwickshire. The first heating and electricity bills have been shockingly high so Tom is determined to cut the waste. His first task is to see where the problem areas are. A small army of energy consultants armed with heat-detecting cameras, smoke machines and endoscopes reveal the bad news. Like most homes over thirty years old Tom's home is leaching expensive heat through un-insulated lofts, through badly-fitted window frames, through cracks in the skirting board and even up the chimney.

That immediately gives Tom an ambitious programme of works to seal up all those cash escape routes. But is there, he wonders, a better way of creating the heat and light in the first place? His prehistoric oil-burning central heating system is clearly inefficient in a time of rising oil prices but what's the alternative? A boring old gas boiler or something more exciting- a wind generator, a wood-burning stove, solar panels or can he use the natural heat trapped beneath his garden? Some options are greener than others but how long would it take to earn back the cost of a windmill or a solar array? At what point does cost and convenience overcome his conscience? And what do Tom's wife and children think? Will they accept lukewarm baths in winter or an end to hot water on tap?

Over the next twelve months 'Costing the Earth' will make return trips to Warwickshire to chart Tom's progress as he chooses and installs his energy-saving devices. We'll hear what works and what doesn't and separate the green ideas that can actually save money from those best left to the zealots.

Read Tom's tips on slashing your bills and creating a greener home.
 
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