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In 1996 myself, my wife and two children moved from a small flat in London to our new home. When we first moved here I was too busy with full-time work and a young family to be able to do much at all, but more recently I realised that improvements could be made to help us lead a more environmental lifestyle. I am a technical author and have just finished a Masters in Environmental decision-making and looking to find an eco job.
I first became interested in environmental issues in my twenties, both because of the connection with a more spiritual and pacifist outlook as well as the social connections that come from being part of a group (I’m currently involved with our local Friends of the Earth group). As an environmentalist I get great pleasure in knowing I am creating and using clean energy. I also hate waste and try to conserve as much heat as possible.
Our new house in High Wycombe was a single-paned, poorly insulated property when we initially moved in.
A 1960s house may look quite modern but most of them need a lot of upgrades. We started by insulating the cavity walls and then topped up the loft insulation which now has insulation both under the rafters and under the boarding between the joists. The next thing was dealing with the central heating. We upgraded to a condensing boiler, put thermostatic radiator valves on all the radiators and installed new controls. All our lighting is low-energy and we’ve gradually replaced most of our appliances with the most efficient ones. We replaced the windows with uPVC double-glazed units and finally installed Photovoltaic panels three years ago. As well as upgrading the house, we have bought a hybrid car, eat less meat and installed water butts in the garden.
Since starting the work I have bought a thermometer for the house so we can see exactly what the temperature is and it’s made me more likely to put on warmer clothes than turn up the heating.
We didn’t make an overall plan but we did take advantage of grants as they became available and so that drove some of our decisions. It is important to me to know that we are doing the right things for the environment.
The most rewarding aspect is knowing we are using clean renewable energy when the sun is shining.
It is the device which diverts surplus PV electricity to heat the water. It is such a simple concept and installation costs were only around £300.
We have hosted two Superhomes open days, and I think the visitors were interested and motivated by seeing what we’ve done.