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I worked at an environmental charity from the late eighties. I was longing for a non-Victorian plain modern house with no cornices or curly decorative features! We sold our London terraced house and chose this area because it is hilly, near the coast and near where my parents had settled. I want an atmosphere of calm beauty, and a pleasurable feeling when coming home, as much as the super-insulation and renewable energy. Those should simply go without saying – why are they not more normal already? We both wanted somewhere with a secluded garden and space in the sun. So we settled on this tired 1957 chalet-style semi-detached, which had been extended in 1965 and patched up cheaply until the previous occupant died in 2007. Even the original design was not especially good, but we both liked the house straight away. We are still working on making it tidier, and getting used to it in its new form, which is definitely more beautiful than before.
The property was built in 1957 and is a semi detached and extended house. We moved in to the property in 2008 and the renovations are on going.
Some of the key changes we made to the property included installing insulation in cavity walls, floors and the loft as well as draught sealing to a high standard. We also installed double and in some cases triple glazing to windows. Renewable energy sources include PV, solar thermal and the woodstove. Other energy saving measures include sunpipes, low energy lighting and appliances, extractor fans with heat recovery and water saving devices.
• External wall insulation on gable wall is 90mm Celotex (added here to an already insulated cavity wall)
• A-rated condensing boiler but only as a back up
• Existing double glazed UPVC, one window triple glazed, double glazed Sunspace
• New windows are all double glazed low emissivity windows with chestnut frame
• High standard draught sealing
• Floor insulation: Laminated cork flooring with additional 10mm of cork insulation sheet underneath downstairs
• Loft insulation: 350 Warmcell on 100 glass fibre as well as 90mm Celotex insulation on gable wall on outside
• Low energy bulbs and LEDs
• Rainwater collection system with outside tanks
• 1.7 kWp Solar PV system, 9 panels
• Thermal solar panels: 30 tube Thermomax, approx 4 sq m
• 2 sunpipes
• Some new triple-glazed windows
• Woodstove (solid logs) & back boiler in living room with 300 litre heat store
• 3 extractor fans, one with heat recovery
One of the benefits is that we have seen approximately a 15% reduction in energy consumption which was above the expectations we had from similar projects.
We burn on average around 4 tonnes of wood per year at a current cost of around £600.
Most of the wood is well-seasoned local logs. For three winters (Sept 09 to March 12) we spent £1582.
We spend under £200 a year on electricity. It costs 12.3p per kWh plus a £56 standing charge. Our electricity is from renewable sources (Good Energy). Historically usage was:
2008/09: 1153 kWh
2009/10: 1098 kWh
2010/11: 1039 kWh
2011/12: 1041 kWh
We’re currently spending around £160 a year on gas, paying 4.2p per unit plus a £77 standing charge. The 2008/9 gas consumption figure is before we moved in and started using the wood stove for heating.
2008/09: 20,542.1 kWh (65520 cu ft)
2009/10: 3,749.8 kWh (11960 cu ft)
2010/11: 2,116.3 kWh (6750 cu ft)
2011/12: 1,809.0 kWh (5770 cu ft)
The house is nearly on the Downs and is windy and cold at times. It had solid floors, double-glazing, insulated cavity walls, but little other insulation or draught-proofing. There is a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor that make it quite difficult to insulate.
We insulated on the outside of brick or blockwork cavity walls using external insulation covered with render. There is a layer of celotex foam insulation (usually 90mm) then softwood battens, then metal mesh, with render on the outside. This all may have been superseded by better things since 2009.
James Chalmers was our builder. Maria Hawton-Mead was our designer and also bought in Ken Neal.