John Bullock Lighting Design
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Smart stuff


This is about low energy light sources � again. Now pay attention, because this may get a bit complicated; not a lot � but maybe just enough.

The first thing: many of my peers have talked about the way that energy directives like Part L of the Building Regulations are misguided and ignore new control technologies. The argument goes that it�s not the wattage of a light bulb that matters � it�s the number of hours that you use it. Good control does away with �wasted energy�. And in a single bound, we were free.

The next thing: the Government has just announced that �500m is to be set aside by the energy regulator so that four �smart grid cities� can be established; the money being spent on households having �smart energy technologies� installed. This will involve clever metering so that those good souls who are generating a surplus of electrical power can get paid for feeding it into the grid. So � smart metering. Hmm.

The very next thing: those of you who are old enough will remember your grandfathers talking about something called �industry�. It involved many men and women disappearing into huge buildings that created lots of noise and steam, and no one needed a watch because a massive hooter would tell you when it was dinnertime. Now most of those buildings � let�s call them �factories� - paid for their electricity in an unusually sophisticated way. Not only did they have a meter like the ones we have at home that measured electrical consumption, but they also had a second meter that measured how much electrical load was connected at any time. So if you switched on a 100W light bulb for an hour, one meter registered the consumption of 0.1kWh, and the other would register the addition of 100W to whatever else was connected. Do you see where I�m going with this?

The thing that will drive reduced energy consumption and promote low energy technologies will be the ability for the electricity suppliers to charge for connected load, regardless of how long it�s switched on for. Existing metering can�t do that, but �smart metering� will. While there will be a tiny handful of people gaining for feeding energy back into the grid, the rest of us will be wondering about whether we can switch on the washing machine and boil the kettle at the same time (answer � it�s not a good idea). And all those heating and lighting base-loads will need to be reduced.

This is a stealth method to push everyone further into the arms of low energy light sources. I�m not saying that�s a bad thing, but I�d prefer the government to be honest (and I can�t believe I just wrote that) in its intentions.
The control freaks have got it wrong.


RIBA CPD in 2015

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