Great review for The Home Energy Handbook

The Home Energy Handbook has just received a great review from Simon Brammer at Ashden. “Personally speaking, I took the book to bed with me and was so engrossed in it I didn’t put it down until 2.30am!”

“One of the things I like about the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT)’s recently published Home Energy Handbook is that it doesn’t shy away from technical terms: ‘U-values’, ‘convection’, ‘conduction’, ‘Passivhaus’. Instead, it explains the terms and why you need to understand them, illustrates them with an easily digestible diagram, and then provides the solution to your problem. It’s like the Haynes Manual to energy in your home.

Unlike other advice books I have read, it’s also empowering. It tells you about how to go it alone or better still, how to set up a community energy project and do it with your neighbours and friends – then just when you start thinking I’m not sure I could do that, provides an inspiring case study that says, Obama-like, yes you can!”

CAT won an Ashden Award two years ago for its contribution to training the army of skilled workers needed to help transition Britain to a low carbon economy. Read the full review here, find out more about the Ashden network, and then follow the link to CAT to buy the book.

Hay festival launch for The Home Energy Handbook (my new book!)

I’m pleased to announce that CAT will be holding a launch event for my new book The Home Energy Handbook at the Hay-on-Earth stage at the Hay Festival on Thursday 7th June. The launch event will be held between 10 and 11 am. Signed copies of the book will be available in Pembertons on-site book shop immediately after the event. Please do come along and chat about the book and pick up a copy.

I’m really proud of the book. I’ve been working on it for two years, along with four other writers, Peter Harper and Paul Allen from CAT and Nicky Ison and Jarra Hicks from Community Power Agency. It’s been designed to be as friendly, approachable and good looking as possible by my colleagues at CAT Graham Preston and Annika Faircloth. It’s quite a different book for me but I hope anyone who knows about my work will embrace the energy challenges set down within it and find inspiration from it.

The Home Energy Handbook is the first practical book to cover all the key areas of home and community energy in one volume: from mapping out the great energy challenges of the 21st Century, through calculating and cutting your carbon emissions, to implementing practical energy projects in your home and community. No other book offers such a complete and dedicated guide to all the major energy saving- and renewable energy generation technologies, whilst showing how these technologies can be used to create social change.

Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement has said this about the book: “The Home Energy Handbook is a hugely valuable resource for individuals, households, communities and local and national decision makers. There is a revolution afoot in terms of how we imagine energy generation. This is its manifesto.”

The Transition Companion

I’ve had a busy week on the rails this week. First down to Totnes to interview Rob Hopkins for a chapter in my new book The Home Energy Handbook, then London for the RHS Autumn Show for a reading of Curious Incidents in the Garden at Night-time and then to Bristol for the amazing awe-inspiring Schumacher festival, which featured some world-class speakers. I’ll go on to talk about these in subsequent posts but I just wanted to talk about Rob Hopkins’ new book The Transition Companion. Those of you familiar with the Transition Town’s movement will probably know Rob’s work but either way I’d recommend you get hold of a copy of The Transition Companion. It’s really been written to help Transition Town groups to build a movement for social change in their neighbourhood but you could read it on its own as an inspirational text to move yourself in a new direction. Having had the opportunity to talk to Rob last week for a couple of hours I’ve certainly started to re-evaluate the direction in which I’ve been traveling and started to think about what I could do differently. Part of this process is a re-booting of my blog, which has been sadly dormant in recent years. Over the years I’ve had over 70,000 visitors to the blog so I know there’s an audience for what I’m writing. Time to get moving again! So, if you want to find out more about The Transition Companion click here. If you want to know more about The Transition Network here, and if you want to see Rob talk how about here. Meanwhile I’ll be back tomorrow with a run down of my favourite speakers at the Schumacher conference. Whilst I remember I’ll be launching The Home Energy Handbook around about the end of January. The book is a collaborative project with five other authors taking you from the basics of peak oil and climate change, through carbon calculation to the nuts and bolt practical details of taking action on energy in your home and community. It’s my first book for four years and I’m particularly excited to be part of this project.

Come and hear me read from Curious Incidents in the Garden at Night-time

Along with Helen Babbs, author of My Garden, The City and Me (see my review here) I’ll be reading extracts from Curious Incidents in the Garden at Night-time at the RHS harvest festival in London next wednesday (5th October). Come and find us in the Harvest Hangout area and also enjoy the Herbarium poets. Come and chat to me after the performance. I’ll be signing books and will also have details of my new book The Home Energy Handbook (published by the Centre for Alternative Technology). This book has a strong focus on community energy projects so if you’ve got any questions about this I’ll try and point you in the right direction. Helen is performing at 2pm. I’ll be on with the Herbarium Poets at 3. For directions click here.

Green Books launch Forest Garden book by Martin Crawford

I was very excited to receive yesterday a copy of Martin Crawford’s long awaited guide to forest gardening – Creating A Forest Garden. Martin is the UK’s leading exponent of forest gardening – a style of gardening which concentrates on perennial food crops grown in layers. The book launch couldn’t have been timed better as Alys Fowler is currently planting a forest garden for the BBC Gardeners World TV programme. My friend – and co-author of The Organic Garden Chloe Ward – is also growing one at the Centre for Alternative Technology. It will be one of the few forest gardens you can get easy access to on a public visitor site. Forest gardens were developed by Robert Hart well over twenty years ago and it has been a long wait for them to get this sort of mainstream public recognition. It’s very exciting to see it finally come.

I haven’t had a chance to read it yet but it looks fantastic and I’m sure given Martin’s diligence and dedication to forest gardening it will be extremely informative and well researched.

CAT publishes first solar book to include details of new feed-in tariff incentive scheme

Next week sees the publication of the first solar PV book to include full details of feed-in tariff incentives – the new government scheme that encourages the installation of solar PV modules by providing householders, communities and businesses with a guaranteed fixed price for every unit of electricity they produce using small scale renewable technology.

The scheme is launched today by the government and the book – Choosing Solar Electricity: A guide to photovoltaic systems – is available now, from, and from everyone else from April 8th. It is written by solar engineer and CAT lecturer Brian Goss and helps those who are fairly clueless about solar get to grips with the technology so they can talk to an installer without being bamboozled or talked into something that isn’t right for them.

The book costs £14.00 and is fully illustrated to help you understand how a solar PV system works. Click here to search inside.

Two time finalist at Garden Media Awards – close but no cigar

I’ve just found out I was a finalist in two categories of The Garden Media Guild Awards. The two awards were for Inspirational Book of the Year – for The Organic Garden (which I wrote with Chloe Ward) – and Gardening Column of The Year – for my organic columns in Garden News magazine – all of which you can still read deep in the depths of the blog somewhere. The Organic Garden is of course a fantastic Christmas present and you can get a discounted copy from CAT. My fellow organic garden writer John Walker was a finalist in the environmental award for ‘We Shop, Planet Drops’ in Organic Garden & Home Magazine. For a full list of award winners and finalists view –

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