Life Tips special: Green Your Gaff with Jon Cowdrill


I’m Jon, The Kentishtowner’s new Green Home Guru. Over the next few months I hope to save you some cash …



I’m Jon, The Kentishtowner’s new Green Home Guru. Over the next few months I hope to save you some cash – and make your home greener.

I’ll lay my cards on the table right now: I actually work for a solar installation company, Joju Solar, but in my spare time I’m a volunteer for carbon reduction initiatives like Transition Highbury and Carbon Conversations. And I’m now training up as a Domestic Energy Assessor and will very soon be going off grid for a month in my North London Flat. Which should be very interesting…

Anyway, the other week I popped by the Grand Designs Exhibition and saw thousands of techniques for eco-fitting houses, ranging from the tried and tested to the latest technologies. But which ones do I choose and why would I bother in the first place? For this first column, let’s deal with the latter question first.

So why bother? Well, anything we purchase, from the clothes we wear to the car we drive embodies our own lifestyle values. And with our home likely to be the biggest purchase we ever make, it could be seen as a statement about who we are and what we believe in.

Then there’s the fact that increasingly we want to be – and be seen to be – green. Deep down we know that green is ‘good’. You only have to watch programmes like Grand Designs to see how the latest trends in architecture and renovation have a massive emphasis on sustainability.

Another reason is energy prices – only going one way at the moment. And that’s likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Which means paying more and more to live in your house, unless you do something about it. As I’ll be showing in the coming weeks and months there are simple and very cost effective ways of making big dents in your home energy bills.

Last but definitely not least, Greening Your Gaff will give you more comfort. No matter how much you spend on heating and electricity, an inefficient, leaky house will make your life miserable. The floors will be cold, and there will always be those annoying little draughts. Going green in the home isn’t a hair-shirt scenario – it’s about a better quality of life.

And whilst this subjected is exhausted daily in the media, let’s not forget climate change – the heart of why we do all this. Pumping millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is not pretty. Those gases trap heat from the sun and are already causing very significant changes to the climate.

This is nothing you don’t know already. But as a society and as individuals we need to (and can) get a grip on the issue.

Did you know that the UK Government is legally committed to reducing the UK’s carbon emissions by a staggering 80% by 2050? It’s a massive challenge but one that will benefit all of us and in which we all have a part to play.

So what will you be able to achieve by Greening Your Gaff? The majority of houses can be made more stylish, cheaper to run, amazingly comfortable and emit no or almost no Greenhouse Gasses. Next month I’ll show you how.

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Jon’s May tip:
Get to know your energy requirements. The first step in Greening Your Gaff is to understand what you consume. Let’s start with the basics. Look at your last 12 months of gas and electricity bills or call your supplier and ask them for the figures. How many kWh of electricity and Gas have you used? Any patterns? What do you currently pay per kWh for Gas and Electricity? Once you’ve done this start working out which bits of your home are guzzling the most juice – but you’ll have to wait for my next instalment to find out how to do that.

Green Your Gaff is sponsored by Joju Solar, who are based in North London (in fact just a yard or two from NW5).

Got a question for Jon? Fire away below.


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  • Samantha Treacle

    This is amazing. You are amazing!

  • Izzy

    Great blog Jon. Looking forward to next months already!