School of Built Environment, Engineering and Computing

Insulate Britain; BBC calls on Leeds Beckett Researcher for advice for households

Dr David Glew, Head of Energy Efficiency at the Leeds Sustainability Institute, has appeared on the BBC to give advice to householders on staying warm and reducing their fuel bills, against the backdrop of the Insulate Britain protests.

Thermal imagery of a terraced house

When I got the call to appear on national TV and radio to talk about our research into insulating (or more broadly retrofitting) homes, I was thrilled and, at the time, was perhaps naïve enough to hope I may even inspire some viewers and listeners to become more engaged in the world of retrofit! Despite having no success in doing so with my own family, I might add.  

How successful I was, I do not know, but the show went well enough, my colleagues, Dr Martin Fletcher and Felix Thomas, were centre stage in the BBC One 6 o’clock news showing the world how we identify draughts in homes, while I had a small piece to camera with science correspondent Victoria Gill. Later on I then had a brief chat with Nuala McGovern on the BBC 5 Live Breakfast show, a clip of which was put on twitter.

What I learned from the experience is that no matter how much experts have to say on their specialist area of research, being able to make one single point, clearly and succinctly is much more powerful, when communicating science via mainstream media, than trying to address a complex question by explaining the nuances and intricacies of a problem. What I mean by this is much of what I intended to say didn’t make the final edit that was beamed into millions of television sets! Though I think they probably got the edit about right.

I was asked a week or so later to join Nicky Campbell’s Your Call again on BBC 5 Live, which was an altogether different experience. The theme was Insulate Britain’s protests and I had to try to provide some clear background on the underpinning policy and science surrounding insulating homes, while callers rang in with their experiences of the protests. The callers were incredibly passionate about the issues and it seemed that on each side of the argument there was a thirst for more information. This reinforced to me the important role we as researchers have in informing public debate, and for my fellow retrofit researchers in particular, it was nice feel that our contributions to society have some practical impact and useful purpose.

I was fortunate that they also wrote up the BBC One 6 o’clock news story 'Seven ways to make your home more energy efficient' and this was an opportunity to elaborate more on our research and how households can stay warm and reduce their fuel bills. Though this too was a slimmed down version of my interview, clipped to be palatable for the casual reader, and I am sure is all the better because of it.

I have added the links to these media appearances in the blog text so feel free to watch, read or listen to any of these examples of retrofit research being in the news, who knows if it will happen again? If you are interested in what I had intended to say on the subjects of insulating homes, and UK government retrofit policy, but which didn’t make the cut, then please feel free to get in touch, or perhaps I need to write another blog…

Dr David Glew

Reader / School Of Built Environment, Engineering And Computing

Dr Glew is Head of Energy Efficiency and Policy at the Leeds Sustainability Institute. He manages large interdisciplinary retrofit evaluation projects for the LSI, including undertaking Building Performance Evaluation (BPE) field tests, evaluation in use monitoring of energy and indoor air quality including smart meter data, as well as investigate the potential for behaviour change methods to improve occupant comfort and reduce instances of damp, and performing hygrothermal and energy modelling of buildings. David is an established expert in retrofit evaluation, he was seconded into Government (BEIS) and is still often called upon for guidance on issues facing domestic energy efficiency policy and research, he is also a regular contributor to national and local TV and Radio and has appeared on podcasts on domestic energy efficiency and retrofit related issues.

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