A place for Viv and her team to impart their latest thoughts and findings on a range of electrical and sustainability issues and offer advice on energy saving, installation and products.

General Electrics

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March 8th is International Women’s Day - a day set aside to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women throughout the world.


Although we’ve come a long way since the Suffragette’s began fighting for equality one hundred years ago, according to the campaigning organisation ‘Jobs for the Girls’, ‘only one in every thousand electrical contractors is female’; an astonishing and saddening statistic.  

This month Athena Electrical is celebrating 24 years of working in the electrical contracting and renewable energy sector and we’d like to extend a BIG Thank You to all our customers who have supported this women-owned business.

With limited funds for marketing, small businesses like Athena, know you have made an effort to find us; looking past the first pages of internet search engines, checking out customer reviews and recognising that a famous brand name doesn’t always mean great service.

Although women represent 50% of the workforce, and despite recent attempts by the construction industry to encourage women into the trades, we are still massively under-represented in most trade professions.  Please keep searching out women-owned businesses like Athena so that we can continue to grow and support a representative, green and local economy.

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A positive note to end the year!

Award-winning Consumer advice website for all things renewable, Yougen have recognized Athena Electrical’s outstanding customer service and named us Installer of the month.

Yougen aims to make it easy for the average person to learn about saving energy and generating renewable heat or electricity. The website provides practical information and common-sense advice on all aspects of energy efficiency and renewable energy, as well as helping consumers to find and choose the right local installer across the UK.


Installer of the month –Athena Electrical

When you’re looking for someone to install renewables, it’s vitally important you have confidence in the installer and feel comfortable with who you’ll be inviting into your home.

Athena have received some outstanding recommendations which demonstrate how an installer can go above and beyond in making the installation process quick, thorough and informative for each customer.

Viv O’Brien from Athena reflects on this positive feedback:
“We are delighted that so many of our customers recognise the extra value of Athena Electrical’s great customer service. Over recent years, new technologies such as battery storage and energy management have become a really important part of the service we offer and we make every effort to ensure that we recommend the most appropriate Solar and Storage solution for our customers’ household requirements”

See Athena’s outstanding recommendations on their Yougen profile.


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Back in 2012, Athena Electrical installed a 2.64kWp Solar PV System for Islington residents Howard Richmond and Robin Rubenstein.

Passionate about the environment and keen to take a step closer to energy independence, Howard and Robin have become one of the first UK households to have the Tesla Powerwall 2 battery installed at their home.

The Powerwall 2 works with their Solar PV system to store unused solar energy generated during the day and releasing it when needed during the evenings or on cloudy days. This means they won’t need to draw down as much energy from their supplier, reducing their bills and providing some protection from rising energy prices.

With the future introduction of SmartGrids, Howard and Robin may be able to sell some of their excess energy back to the National Grid to help balance UK electrical energy supply and demand. With 13.2kWh storage capacity, and 100% depth of discharge, the lithium-ion Tesla Powerwall 2 battery has double the capacity of Powerwall 1 but is only 20% more expensive, offering Residents more power for their pound.

The Tesla battery’s IP rating means it can be installed in a garage or outside and the Tesla App provides real-time energy monitoring of solar generation, household energy consumption and state of battery charge.

Read why Howard chose to add storage to his Solar System.

Why did you decide to install an energy storage system ?

I am both a customer of, and supplier to, Good Energy plc so that I was already receiving all my electricity from renewable sources. However, I wanted to go one stage further and become as self sufficient as possible, at least during the summer months. I had read about battery storage and thought it was a good investment for my savings when they were otherwise losing value in my savings account with inflation being above interest rates.

Why did you choose Athena Electrical to install the Tesla Powerwall 2?

Athena installed my original 11 solar panel array in February 2012. The timescale was very tight but Athena were so efficient, the installation was completed just in time for me to qualify for the maximum original Feed-in-Tariff just before the then government cut it. I have since more than paid off the cost of that original investment.

Athena subsequently installed a hot water diverter to enable me to use excess solar electricity to heat water in the immersion tank.

Since by then, I had formed a good relationship with the Athena team it was only natural that I would seek their advice on a battery system. I had heard about the Tesla Powerwall and so was pleased that they recommended the Powerwall 2.

How did you find the installation process?

Absolutely fine. As I recall it took two days. The battery is heavy so there has to be a suitable and easily accessible wall for it to be attached to.

What do you think of the Tesla Powerwall 2 so far?

So far I am very pleased. There is an excellent App, which allows me to view in real time the flow of electricity to and from the battery from the roof and to the house. Since installation about a month ago I have been about 97% self sufficient in electricity even though there have been many cloudy days.

What would you say to other householders considering the installation of a battery storage system?

Each householder needs to make their own cost benefit analysis since the batteries are quite expensive. In my case I am not so concerned about a there being a short-term pay back period. For me it is an investment for the next generation. I also assess that in the medium term the cost of energy is likely to go up much faster than inflation and that the payback may come sooner than current calculations will show.

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Last month Athena Electrical installed a 2.26kwp Solar PV system for Dan and Jennifer on their home in Leytonstone. Their solar system was the very first in Europe to benefit from the 25 year product warranty recently introduced by Panasonic. Here’s what they have to say about their experience...

“It was wonderful to hear that we were the first people in Europe to obtain an extended warranty for our Panasonic VBHN285SJ40 solar panels.  

We chose the Panasonic VBHN285SJ40 panels after a very long discussion with our designer/installer Athena Electrical.

There were several things we had to review, for example roof size, orientation, power requirements, etc. Athena were great and put up with a lot of questions on the best solution.  

We have 8 panels installed with 4 panels below a dormer and 4 above utilising SolarEdge Optimisers to maximise solar production.   The panels, as well as supplying electricity for the house, supply power to our water storage unit via a Solic 200 Hotwater diverter.  


We moved into a 3 bedroom house in East London in September 2016, and our first thoughts were how to reduce our impact on the environment, it is important to us to tread lightly on this earth, it is not about saving money (that is a pleasant side effect) but helping the planet is key.  

As well as installing the panels we have changed all the halogen spotlights in the house with new LED lights and now all our lighting in the house is either LED or energy efficient.  Even though we are very ecologically minded having the solar panels has made us start to think in a new way about our energy use and we hope that this will further drive our need for electricity down.  At the moment after only a few months we have reduced our demand on electricity from the grid by 50%

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We are sure you’ve heard the hype about the fantastic range of Tesla Electric cars. But did you know that Tesla has now developed a home storage unit incorporating their state of the art battery technology.

The Tesla Powerwall stores energy generated by solar panels during the day to power your home during the evenings.

Recently introduced to the UK, Athena Electrical is proud to be one of just a few authorized Tesla Installers.

If you are fed up with the prices charged by the energy suppliers and would like to gain energy independence, consider combining solar panels with lithium-ion batteries to maximize self-sufficiency and save money on electricity bills.

The sleek and stylish looking Tesla battery can be wall mounted internally or externally and has capacity to store up to 6.4kWh of electrical energy - more than enough to power most household’s night-time consumption. Once the battery has been emptied, your system will automatically switch to using energy from the Grid.

Cost to supply and install 6.4kWh retrofit Tesla Battery System - from £4,300 exc VAT

Cost to supply and install Electric Vehicle Charging Point – from £750.00 exc VAT

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Would you like to source 80% of your electrical energy from renewable sources

Since the beginning of this year, Athena Electrical has been getting involved in energy storage and we thought you’d like to hear about a recent project in Stoke Newington.

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At the beginning of the year, we let you know that Hackney Energy, a community energy group, had been set up in Hackney with the aim of creating renewable energy low carbon projects in the area that will benefit local residents.

We’re very pleased to report that Hackney Energy’s very first solar energy co-operative, in partnership with Repowering London and residents from Banister House Estate is now well underway in Homerton. 

Seed funding to support the set up of Banister House Solar Co-op was provided by Hackney Council. Eleven young people from the estate have taken up internships to not only learn about the financial, technical, legal and structural elements of a renewable energy co-operative, but gain training in energy efficiency and receive vocational work experience installing the solar panels with the contractors.

Last month Demand Energy Equality ran a workshop at Banister House Community Centre where the interns and members of Banister House Solar Co-operative had the opportunity to build and test their own solar panels from solar cells and reclaimed double glazed windows.  

When completed, Banister House Estate will generate more than 100,000 kWh of renewable energy a year from 480 community owned solar panels, saving an estimated forty-one tonnes of CO2 per year. All residents of Banister House Estate have the opportunity to buy shares for a minimum of £50, while other Hackney residents interested in supporting solar energy will be able to buy shares for a minimum of £250. All shareholders that make up the membership of the co-operative will have a say in how it is run, as well as receiving interest payments on their investment of approximately 4% a year.

There are a growing number of community energy groups throughout the UK, so if you're interested in setting one up in your own area, then you might be interested in Energy Mentoring, a new initiative that has been established to offer advice, guidance and support for anyone in the early stages of setting up a community energy project or considering it.  

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Following in the footsteps of Brixton Energy, we are delighted that a local energy community group was set up last month in Hackney. Not surprisingly, the initiative has caused considerable interest in the local press and with residents, eager to find out what kind of difference this could make to Hackney.

Hackney Energy is a not-for-profit organisation whose aim will be to work towards a positive future for the borough by setting up and managing energy co-operatives; its focus being the local community and sustainability. 

The main issues Hackney Energy will tackle are social and environmental and the idea in essence is quite simple. The community invest in Hackney Energy themselves so that they can launch projects, such as installing renewable energy sources on buildings. The income generated, then goes towards further projects, bringing about positive change. 

Hackney Energy has arrived at a time when more and more people are beginning to question the role and ethical status of the major UK energy companies, known collectively as ‘the big 6’.  As customers become more disillusioned with the service they are being provided, the cost of energy and the manner in which many of these companies seem to operate, it's not surprising that community run energy co-operatives such as Hackney Energy seem, not only a positive change, but a very viable alternative. It is perhaps no coincidence that a recent survey by Which! (the consumer watchdog) placed two renewable energy companies Good Energy and Ecotricity top of the list of the UK’s energy suppliers. 

Hackney Energy is run by local residents in partnership with Re-Powering London and there are numerous ways you can get involved, whether by volunteering, attending community meetings or through donations. As the projects gather momentum, there’ll also be an opportunity for work experience, not only learning about the management and running of an energy co-operative, but getting hands on experience with solar installations. 

We look forward to writing about Hackney Energy’s first project in the not too distant future. 

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December is upon us and Christmas is just around the corner, so rather than extolling the virtues of home insulation or great ways to minimise your heating bill (which we of course can, should you so wish), we thought we’d tell you about a couple of local happenings that will warm your heart and even your stomach.

The first comes courtesy of Millfields Community School, a primary school in Clapton. They’ve had the rather brilliant idea of releasing a Christmas Song to help them raise funds for a new playground, whilst donating 20% of sales towards UNICEF’s ‘Sing for Syria’ campaign.

The song, written by a local resident, is very aptly named ‘C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S’ and has been recorded by 620 pupils from the school, aged between 5 and 11. Not content with just recording it, the kids also feature in their very own music video made by two parents.

You can download the song for just 99 pence and not only will you be helping the kids to get a new playground, but they might even reach number 1 in the charts.

The temperature, as you can’t have failed to notice has been dropping quite significantly, so what better time to enjoy a delicious warming stew. We can highly recommend popping in to the newly opened Maeve’s Kitchen in Clapton, who in their own words, serve up ‘one pot dishes with a no nonsense approach’.

This rather homely restaurant has been set up in memory of the author Maeve Binchy (who died last year) by local resident and Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Dominic Dromgoole, who was a close family friend of Binchy.

They’re open every day of the week except Monday, and their slow cooked stews are proving popular, so we suggest booking first to make sure you get a table.

So, there are two suggestions to warm up and enjoy your December. Enjoy.

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With government launched energy efficiency initiatives such as the Green Deal, offering households incentives to install double-glazing and insulation, a growing number of homes in the UK are significantly more energy efficient than in the past.

This is great news obviously, and as we move towards the winter months many people who have taken such measures and made their homes more airtight will be looking forward to a warm, cozy environment and reduced energy bills.

However, unless your property is suitably ventilated, you could also experience condensation, mould, and associated health risks.

What is condensation?

Air naturally contains a certain amount of water vapour, with warm air holding more water vapour than cold air. Condensation occurs when warm, moist air comes in to contact with cooler air or non porous surfaces, which is why, when you take a hot shower, mirrors and windows in the vicinity steam up.

If your home is sufficiently ventilated, condensation doesn’t become a problem, but when moisture is allowed to build up, it can cause damage to walls, floors, ceilings as well as fabrics like curtains. 

Ways to improve a condensation problem?

If your house suffers from condensation, then by following some of the simple steps below, can reduce the problem.

•    Keep your property well ventilated by opening windows and allowing the moist air to escape.

•    Try not to dry damp clothes inside.

•    When running a bath or taking a hot shower, keep the bathroom door closed. If possible open a window. (Bathrooms should be installed with an automatic extractor fan).

•    When cooking, try to cover pans of boiling water with lids.

•    Keep furniture away from walls (particularly external walls).

•    If possible, endeavour to keep heating levels at a constant temperature.

Condensation solutions

It could be that some of the above measures have little effect on your condensation problem. One of the more recent condensation solutions is a continuous decentralised mechanical extract ventilation (dMEV) system, which will improve both ventilation and air quality.

These continuous fans are recommended by BEAMA to accompany any Green Deal energy efficiency improvements that are made to a property and one fan, consumes less than £5 of energy per year. The added bonus is these fans are discreet and because they are slow speed, almost silent so you will hardly notice its existence.


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