Sustainable energy demonstration kit

Backing our energy advice with high-quality and engaging scale models and displays

Project duration: May 2011 to April 2012

In 2011, CSE was awarded £10,000 by the Big Lottery Fund to design and build high-quality demonstration kit to support the work of our busy energy advice team at events and other gatherings.

The brief was for 'hands-on' equipment that demonstrates sustainable energy in a way that is engaging and informative, and addresses the issues that members of the public raise most often.

This was advice team's wish-list:

  • A model house (scale 1:12) showing as many examples of sustainable energy as possible
  • A lighting display box demonstrating the variety of low-energy bulbs available, including dimmable ones
  • A way of displaying samples of the many different types of home insulation for lofts, cavity walls and solid walls
  • A functioning solar panel that can power fun stuff like model racing cars and radios, as well as more grown-up items like phone-chargers and fans
  • A heating controls demonstrator. (Our advisors get lots of questions about the knobs, dials and buttons on night-storage heaters, boilers and central heating controls.)

And, of course, the kit had to look great, be robust enough to withstand the rigours of the road, and light enough to be manageable.

Our chosen supplier for all elements was Amalgam, a Bristol-based firm who built our fantastic PlanLoCaL model and whose clients include fellow Bristolians, Aardman Animations, of Wallace and Gromit fame. The kit that Amalgam designed and built certainly met our brief and has been used successfully since its delivery.

At the same time (and not covered by the Big Lottery Fund award) we also built a set of three half-sized (i.e. 1:2 scale) wall insulation models. These show the cross-sections of an insulated cavity wall, an externally insulated solid wall and an internally insulated solid wall (see picture).

These turned out to be very popular indeed, and multiple sets of these were made and sold to a dozen different community groups under the Local Energy Assessment Fund. Keep your eyes open, and you may see them at an event near you.

The model house

The scale-model house accounted for the lion's share of the funding and is the undoubted star of the show. "There's something about objects in miniture that is very appealling to children and adults alike", says Mark Tyler, who has accompanied the house to many outreach events.

The house is crammed with detail and advisors can point to energy-saving features such as loft and wall insulation, solar panels, insulated pipework, draughtproofing, A-rated appliances, low-carbon transport, radiator panels, heating controls, double glazing and much more. And those wags at Amalgam even put a Jumanji game in the loft.

All the models and demos are designed to work alongside our popular suite of energy advice leaflets.

Stay up to date with our work - sign up for our fortnightly newsletter