A personal account summarising this recently run course in Bishopston is given here by Elinor Edwards, the chair of the Bishopston Society.

This course was a six-week evening course taught by Martin Fodor and Maddy Longhurst and has just finished. It was supported by funds from our local Neighbourhood Partnership 'well-being' budget in order to encourage older participants.

I found it stimulating and informative, discovering new things about my house (a Victorian terrace, unfortunately a kind of house difficult to make energy-efficient) and my own energy-use.  The other course participants were friendly, helpful and ready to share their experiences and know-how.  We discussed our values and priorities, raising our awareness of energy use and 'carbon footprints'.  We measured our electricity use with borrowed monitors (my classmates helped me make calculations), and explored the pros and cons of different insulating materials and appliances. In particular we discussed how much gain could result from making each potential change - a big contribution to conserving energy will be from installing a condensing boiler or loft insulation, or cavity wall insulation (sadly not for Victorian solid walls), while smaller savings in energy use (which are cheap or cost nothing) can be made by simple actions like unplugging appliances on transformers or not leaving electronics on stand-by.

After discussing ways of making our houses more energy-efficient, we discussed how to (and whether to) invest in renewable energy, as with photo-voltaic cells or solar panels.  I received useful tips (like 'double-glazing' windows with plastic film in winter or having a rain-cap put on the chimney) and discussed insulating walls inside or out, or under floors.

Overall it was good to talk with interested and well-informed people about an issue both urgent and important - conserving what we can of the quality of our environment, using renewables where we can, and stewarding our precious resources for the next generation, so that our children and their children can still enjoy this beautiful planet

.PS - Martin and Maddy can be contacted at . The course will probably be given again at other venues in Bristol.