We are HGS REACH (Residents Action on Climate and Health). We want to make Hampstead Garden Suburb a leader in low-carbon living by becoming Net Zero by 2040.

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Urgent action needed to stop flooding in HGS

For Nicky Neftalin, July and August don't just mean summer - they mean a risk of flooding. After four deluges since 2007, it's time for action

Photo: Tony Brand

Since moving into a property in Wildwood Road in 2007, our home has been flooded on four separate occasions. Many neighbouring properties in the vicinity have also been affected. 

There is an urgent need to fix this situation before its inevitable recurrence but communication with the Barnet Highway Team over the last nine months has not been a productive exercise. 

Read more here.

Climate change is a local and global threat

From HGS to Phoenix, Arizona, the threat from climate change is getting greater. Jonathan Waxman, chair of HGS REACH, explains

The solution to climate change is obvious if not easy: we must replace all our fossil fuel burning with clean energy. And this is something in which we in HGS should play our part. 

Read more here.

Our air quality monitor is now live

How good is the air in Hampstead Garden Suburb? We are about to find out

The air quality monitor is installed at the junction of Meadway and Hampstead Way and is now logging NO2 and particulates, which are usually generated by cars, trucks and buses. 

We're working on building the data into the REACH website, and there will be a full article in the next issue of Suburb News. We will also put information and a QR code on the lamp post so anyone passing can find what's going inside their lungs.

(Spoiler alert: air quality in HGS isn't as good as you may think/hope.)

The solar-powered monitor is connected to the Breathe London air quality monitoring network, and you can see the data collected so far by clicking through to the Breathe London site. Note that the page takes a while to load. Scroll down to see the data, and click on the buttons below each chart to add WHO and UK limits to the charts.

Credit is due to HGS REACH members Craig Hales and Ruth Ramen for making this happen. Our node is possible because of a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies; Breathe London is supported by the Mayor of London. 

Time for a reality check on heat pumps for smaller homes

Are heat pumps suitable for modest family homes? We took a trip to find out.

Some people say heat pumps are only suitable for heavily insulated eco-homes. Or that you have to rip out all your plumbing and install new radiators. We visited Max and Juliette in South London, and found neither of these were true. Their 1930s family has solid brick walls yet was kept warm all last winter by an 11kw heat pump.

Read more here.

Climate change hits home with sharp rise in subsidence claims

If you thought climate change was mostly a problem for the Pacific Islands, think again. It's much closer to home

A Sunday Times article this weekend has data that shows an epidemic of house subsidence caused by  trees sending out new roots because of climate change.

One insurer reports that a 500% increase in claims after the hot summer of 2022.

And north London has more subsidence "than anywhere on the planet", one expert says.

Read our summary and analysis.

Energy saving in HGS - what to do next

A follow-up to our energy-saving event on May 15

The Suburb News report of this event is now online here.

A full video of the event is here and there are chapter markings so you can go straight to any section that interests you (click on SHOW MORE in the YouTube description for a full list).

Read Dermot Barnes' presentation on energy  retrofit for older buildings here.

Judith Leary-Joyce's presentation on retrofitting her home is here and you can buy her book Beginners Guide to Eco Renovation here.

Government and other assistance for improving energy efficiency changes every few months. The Energy Saving Trust has an up-to-date guide

Our IR camera scheme is on pause

Stay tuned: it will be back late autumn.

More than 50 residents have borrowed one of our infrared cameras in the first three months of 2023, giving them a unique insight into energy loss and how to reduce it. However, these fantastic gadgets only work if there is a wide temperature difference between inside and outside your home. The scheme, therefore, is on pause until late autumn. We will put info on this site and Suburb News when we are ready to restart.

Secondary glazing for unusual-shaped windows 

Many HGS houses have unusual-shaped windows as an attractive architectural feature. Here's how to fit them with plastic secondary glazing.

Our video on plastic secondary glazing has helped many residents make their home more comfortable and cheaper to heat. But what if one or more of your windows aren't rectangles? Or you can't fit ordinary secondary glazing because of locks or other window furniture? If you're moderately skilled at DIY (or have a handy tradesperson) this video explains how you secondary glazing can be fitted to even windows like this. 

The problem with heating our homes with hydrogen

Burning hydrogen instead of natural gas seems like an easy way to heat our homes without emitting CO2. The reality is very different.

Hydrogen heating was mentioned in our HGS meeting on heat pumps in November, with one resident asking whether it would just be simpler and easier to adapt today's natural gas network to carry hydrogen instead of making the switch to heat pumps. (Hydrogen doesn't produce CO2 when it burns).

An article in The Times indicates that the challenges of hydrogen look very substantial. Here's a summary. 

Heating an ancient barn using a heat pump

The Sunday Times dispels the myths that this tech can only heat super-insulated houses.

The article promises "Everything you need to know about heat pumps". Well, it's not quite everything you need to know if you're interested in this technology, but it has some interesting facts.

There's also an intriguing photo of a heat pump wrapped in plastic film to make it blend into the wall behind it.

HGS REACH's take on the article is here.

Stop your gas boiler burning money

Tweak your boiler settings and save 10% of gas or more. Here's a guide

Many "efficient" new combi boilers aren't set up right by the installers. The result: wasted gas and unnecessary CO2 emissions. Here's a guide to fixing it from innovation charity NESTA in association with Which?

Secondary glazing: easy, cheap, and effective

Time to upgrade those draughty, centuries-old windows at modest cost

This video is the first in a series showing residents how to save energy and reduce carbon emissions at modest cost. It shows how to buy and fit acrylic secondary glazing, a cheap way to reduce draughts and eliminate condensation from most HGS windows. If you want to see how it could fit on your windows email reach@hgsra.uk and we can lend you a 30cm square of the plastic to see how it could fit.

Heat pumps on the Suburb: myths and realities

Taking the heat out of the debate

This technology can slash your home's carbon emissions, but a lot of information online is old or inaccurate. Jonathan Waxman and Gren Manuel demolish the myths and give an update on their use in HGS.

A guide to EV charging in the Suburb

Don't have a driveway? No problem! There's plenty of ways to charge an electric vehicle

With an electric vehicle, you can save as you sleep; an overnight top-up of power is much cheaper than a trip to a petrol station. But what if you can't power it up from your home? Motoring journalist and local resident Ivan Berg gives the complete lowdown on keeping an electric vehicle topped up. Article reprinted courtesy of Suburb News.