About Nicola Terry

If you would like a complete CV please drop me an email. There is a complete list of my publications here.

Current occupation

My work is in environmental consulting mainly related to building energy use, such as low carbon heating off the gas grid for CPRE, modelling heat losses from dwellings or Analysis of household electricity use data for DECC and DEFRA, evaluating the energy saving potential of a range of households behaviours for DECC. Related projects include defining 'Cost Effectiveness' for Energy Improvements in Buildings for the Scottish Government.

I give workshops, sometimes paid and sometimes not, for community groups. These usually cover topics connected with energy efficiency or about how to get the best out of low carbon technology (such as heat pumps, PV panels or MVHR). I have also prepared some online material about the practicalities of living with carbon technologies

Voluntary activities

I spend a good deal of time volunteering for local community groups, mainly:


  • BSc (Hons) Open University 1st class (2010) in Environmental Studies
  • MA (Hons) Cambridge 1st class (1984) in Computer Science and Engineering


My career has moved from computer programming, mainly systems and graphics to environmental consulting. These days I use a Mac Mini with Mac OS X and my main programming language is R.

  • 2020-ongoing: Modelling low carbon heating systems to determine the most cost optimal solutions for retrofitting houses for BEIS.
  • 2019-ongoing: Developing a method to determine the heat transfer coefficient for a dwelling based on energy use data from smart meters temperature data from thermostats.
  • 2018-2019: A literature review to explore the variety of meanings of 'cost effective' in energy efficiency upgrades - what are the measures used and what is included or excluded and what time duratins are considered. The answers depend on who is asking the question, from householders or businesses to government policy makers. Final report.
  • 2017-2018: Sourcing model parameters relating to energy use and GHG emissions from processes ranging from heating building to growing energy crops, for a model of UK greenhouse gas emissions
  • 2016/2018: Quantifying heat loss through cavity party walls. This had never been done before in homes that were in normal occupation. We monitored temperature on both sides of the wall and outside, and also heat flux in several places on one side the wall. Then we had to develop a mathematical model of the heat transfer and use statistical parameter fitting techniques to separate heat loss to the outside from transfer across the wall to the neighbours home. Final report
  • 2017: Exploring innovation in solid wall insulation for BEIS: conducting interviews with installers and prodoct manufacturers, collating and synthesising the findings. Final report
  • 2016: Quantifying the benefits of home insulation by comparing pre/post energy use in occupited homes, for an insulation manufacturer. This also involved a great deal of data cleaning and developing a methodology for the analysis, using air quality data as well as energy use and temperatures. We found some occupants change their ventilation habits substantially, affecting the energy savings.
  • 2016: Quality assurance of inputs to a scenario planning model used by DECC for industrial energy use and carbon emissions to 2050. This involved collating and classifying assumptions, summarising the structure and most importan assumptions in different sectors for expert review.
  • 2015: Analysis of energy savings in non-domestic buildings for Innovate UK. This involved collating energy use data from a set of 50 leading edge buildings, identifying factors that contribute to good and bad performance and common problems.
  • 2015: Consulting for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, about low carbon heating in rural homes, especially off the gas grid. This involved interviewing householders about the measures they had taken (or considered and rejected) to reduce energy bills including insulation and heating systems. We were interested in motivating factors , experiences, and savings made. The work also involved modelling the impact of low carbon heating energy demands on the landscape. You can download the report from CPRE: 'Warm and Green; Achieving affordable, low carbon energy while reducing the impacts on the countryside. See also my blog post Warm and Green.
  • 2015: Consulting for the Department for Energy and Climate Change: Costing Monitoring Equipment for a Longitudinal Energy Survey. The aim was to evaluate options and costs for long term monitoring of households for their energy use, behaviour and air quality. This involved surveying the literature to find out what equipment had been used before and collecting information directly from researchers using surveys and a workshop. It seems there are many aspects to consider in monitoring surveys from installing the equipment to taking it away again. Reliability and ease of data collection are as important as accuracy and resolution. Different strategies are needed for households that do not have broadband internet.
  • 2014: Consulting for Department for Energy and Climate Change: calibration of the NHM. The NHM (National Household Model). The NHM is a software model that estimates the energy use in UK homes according to their size, construction and insulation properties. DECC use this model to predict the impact of policies like the Green Deal. The calibration task is to compare the model results with real bill data and adjust accordingly. Also the calibration requires adjusting the housing stock model to reflect the known status. There are more details on the CAR website.
  • 2013 - 2014: Consulting for Department for Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), analysing Household Electrity Survey data. The task is to investigate potential savings in use of electricial appliances by analysing a dataset collected in 2010/2011 where 250 households had most of their appliances monitored individually for a month. The reports are published on www.gov.uk. The overall summary report is 'Powering the Nation 2'.
  • 2012: Environmental consulting for DECC on the energy saving potential of a range of householder behaviours from turning down the heating thermostat to installing an water efficient shower head, putting the lid on saucepans or opening the fridge door less often. The project was lead by Jason Palmer from Cambridge Architectural Research You can download the report and associated spreadsheet with calculations from www.gov.uk.
  • 2012: Environmental consulting for Department for Communities and Local Government, researching and authoring the report 'DCLG State-of-the-Art Review: Insulation and Thermal Storage Materials'. The topic areas range from perforated bricks to vacuum insulated panels and aerogels, from concrete to advanced phase change materials for storage and from reducing heat loss to running underfloor heating with off peak electricity. The project was lead by Jason Palmer from Cambridge Architectural Research and Ian Cooper from Eclipse Research Consultants. A draft of the report is available on the CAR website.
  • 2010-2011: Researching and writing Energy and carbon emissions: the way we live today
  • 2008-present: Website construction and maintenance (both paid and pro-bono) for several organisations, using wikis (pmwiki) discussion forums (smf) and mailing list software (various).
  • 2002-2009: Application design, development and maintenance for VBN (Virtual Business Network) on their community network website toolkit. Mainly VBScript, with a Microsoft-SQL toolkit but also some C# and javascript. (I mainly program in php or python rather than VBScript these days, thank goodness). I also wrote system and user documentation, recruited and trained new developers. VBN was bought out by Sift in 2007 but I continued to do consulting work for them for a few more years.
  • 1989 - 2001: Systems software design, development and maintenance for Smallworld GIS a geographical information systems toolkit, now owned by General Electric. I started at Smallworld in 1989, almost from the beginning of the company. I developed the graphics library and the data dictionary for the Smallworld proprietary database as well as implementing and maintaining the compiler for the proprietary Magik language. Arthur Chance designed and implemented this language and we both miss it even now. We worked mainly in Magik and C. I documented the language and core systems for application developers.
  • 1984 - 1989: Before that I worked 5 years for Cambridge Interactive Systems, a CAD-CAM company, mainly on graphics and user interfaces.