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In 1999 Diana and myself bought this 30’s semi-detached 3 – bedroom house to be our home together with Diana’s three children Richard, Abigail and Oliver.
We intended to extend the house to be big enough for a growing family and wanted, in the process, to incorporate as many energy saving features as we could afford at the time.
We also wanted to create a good working space to the rear for doing all sorts of craft work – Diana for example is a keen dress-maker, and the conservatory is a great light space in which to work.
When we purchased our home we were aware that the house already had cavity wall insulation (polystyrene beads) and all the existing windows were double glazed. Unfortunately we became aware they were very thermally inefficient, acting like “cold radiators” and they had aluminium frames that leaked heat.
In early 2000 we submitted our plans for Planning approval to turn our home into a spacious house that would be plenty of space for our needs together with our growing family. We were attracted to the property because of the potential offered by the south facing aspect, and space to the side of the house that would allow extension sideways to create the extra space we were wanting.
Following approval we then set about raising the necessary finance – and because we were keen to support ethical finance and wanted to incorporate several ‘eco-features’ into the extension we were able to have a mortgage approved with the Ecology Building Society.
In drawing up the plans we had hoped to incorporate solar photovoltaic panels in the roof (which required a re-tile job) as part of the re-roofing, as well as including solar thermal panels which were manufactured by a local (Chester based) company, ‘Solartwin’. Unfortunately at the time, because there was no financial support to install renewable energy measures into domestic properties we had to forgo the electric part and just have two solar thermal panels – these dramatically reduced our energy demand for hot water.
In November 2000 work started and by the following November we had a five bedroom house – together with an energy efficient conservatory to the rear and extended kitchen and utility room. The total volume of the house was almost doubled to provide a suitable space for us all to live comfortably.
All glazing was energy efficient argon gas filled double gazing utilising Wooden FSC certified frames and we could afford to renew a few of the original windows which were aluminium framed and thermally very inefficient.
After the first year we were pleasantly surprised to find our total energy bill (Gas and electricity) was slightly less than the previous smaller home, despite almost doubling its size!
The refurbishment has meant that we now have a comfortable home which has been enlarged to suit our needs, yet uses the same or slightly less total energy than the original house we bought.
We have also discovered, that since our house has a relatively public position, that the solar panels (both thermal and Pv) have generated lots of interest from people curious to know how it works and whether it is a good investment.
Solar thermal panels mean that in the summer we have virtually all the hot water we need without using gas to heat it.
Recently installed a 5Kw wood burner for the kitchen area. This means that we can burn locally grown wood whenever we are just using the kitchen area – whether for cooking, craft work, dressmaking or reading… without heating the rest if the house.
Updated on 24/02/2013
The cavity wall insulation in our house was carried out in two phases….
The first was commissioned by the previous owner of the 3 bed semi we bought over 14 years ago – I believe the insulation was put in a number of years previous to that…..
This insulation was polystyrene beads which at the time was probably one of the most effective ways of doing cavity wall insulation… It still works fine, although I would guess over the years it has settled quite a bit …… no problems with damp ingress and the original walls have little heat loss.. I still get a few beads roll out when I drill a hole in the wall for shelving etc!!!
We extended our home in 2000 to a 5 bed semi and as the new walls were built the local builder who carried out the work utilised mineral wool batts in the cavity, taking care to keep clear of the damp course …. this still works fine and again, no problems of damp course bridging or of damp ingress…..