Snowy days

I’ve written before about the Government’s new-but-not-exactly-revolutionary scheme to encourage householders to take up the challenge of making their homes more energy efficient. About how any publicity campaign is going to have its work cut out to make people prioritise insulating their lofts over spending on the garden, the car, a nice holiday or, indeed, paying the gas bill.

However, just because something is a tough job doesn’t mean it’s not a vital one. The tonne of snow that fell across the country this weekend shows that there is a huge disparity in insulation levels across the country, across counties and, even across streets.

In my part of Kent, we had about four inches of snow fall in about 30 minutes on Sunday evening. It was beautiful, it made the whole place eerily silent, and Monday was fun – it’s not just the kids that love the occasional ‘snow day’. By Tuesday morning of course it was a pain in the whatsit.

However, allow me to share a snap I took yesterday morning.

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The sun had been up for roughly an hour and, to look at some of those roofs you’d think there’d been but a light dusting. Admittedly they are south-facing, but still, the insulation in those lofts must be non-existent. The house in the centre has had a tonne of work done in the last year too, none of it, it appears, on insulating the to bedrooms, which must be haemorrhaging heat.

Compare this with a picture I took just now, facing the other way, but with over 24 hours’ more time to melt. Much, much better. I also, rather smugly looked at my own roof, still blanketed in snow.

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Now, surely, is the time to really hammer home to everyone, householders, builders, merchants, the government, landlords, social housing providers, local councils (assuming some of them do still even have council houses these days?) the importance of ensuring homes are properly insulated. If not now, when energy costs are, quite literally, going through the roof, then when?

On a completely different topic, the saga of who will buy Saint Gobain’s UK distribution businesses was answered this week, with the news that the Danish Stark Group has taken on over 600 branches in its first foray into the UK market. Stark’s mission is to be “the most trusted business-to-business distributor of heavy building materials in Northern Europe.

Having been through the sale process several times, I know that it always feels better to be a part of something that actively want to own you, rather than an add-on to something bigger and less focussed. Building materials distribution is what Stark Group does, and building materials distribution is what it is concentrating on in the UK with the former SGBD businesses.

I’ve got too much to do to spend the time really making this joke work, but I understand there’s an artist’s impression of Stark’s possible plans for redeveloping Binley…

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About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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