Chester, Skips Lane, Lane End
Loft insulation: to 200mm, simple but made a big difference to comfort
Cavity wall insulation: blown bead insulation added by previous owners but incomplete, now inspected and fully filled.
Double-glazing: now throughout and draught-sealed, all with thermal breaks.
Low energy lighting: throughout, almost entirely LEDs. Kitchen lighting runs on 12v supply charged by PV when available, done to prevent loss of lighting during (common) power cuts.
Remote control sockets: to simplify switching lamps and electronics and to reduce use of ‘standby’ mode
Natural energy harvesting: solar PV and solar hot water, massively reducing electricity demand and making as much use of own-generated electricity as possible. Water now pre-heated by PV (Immersun) and solar water heat prior to heating by gas. In summer, on sunny days, all water heating by own energy.
Wood-burning stove: installed (we have enough trees to use our own wood)
Hot water tank insulation: mains-pressure tank now massively insulated (located in garage)
Condensing gas boiler: replaced old oil-fired boiler and tank and removed associated chimney and flue.
CH circulation: changed from ‘single-pipe’ to ‘two-pipe’ system, increasing level of control possible; intelligent ‘A’-rating circulation pump.
- Intelligent control system adjusting circulating temperature according to outside temperature plus other software provisions to minimise wasted heat (owner-designed and built, but commercial units are available).
- Individual soft-zone room thermostats/programmers with radio-operated valve actuators, TRVs on all other radiators.
- Precise hot water temperature control using intelligent thermostat, with tempering valve to reduce flow temperature to kitchen tap.
- Hot Water Priority – allows HW to be heated to 60 degrees (for legionella safety) whilst radiator temperatures are separately set.
Stuart is a retired professional engineer and electronics hobbyist and Helen is a GP.Motivations:
Comfort and cost saving.
The original house was designed when energy-saving was unheard of, and had poor insulation, used high cost energy (oil) and very limited controls. As a result it was not particularly comfortable and was expensive to run.
Architect-designed two-storey detached house built in 1960s for previous owners at a time when energy was cheap and insulation barely a consideration. Original construction was brick and concrete block with no cavity insulation, and a shallow-pitched concrete-tile roof.
Hard to give a single percentage, but note that we now use less electricity in the winter than we used to use in the summer. Though the PV panels do make a contribution, they are not very effective in winter. The main effect is simply replacement of all light bulbs with leds.
Having the panels on the FIT is a good thing because as a result of the early tariff we are on, we are now cash-neutral for energy (not carbon neutral).
A wooden extension was replaced by a 1990s brick/light-weight block two-storey annex.
Various internal improvements:
- New folding doors to kitchen and lounge.
- Removal of internal walls to make space more flexible.
- Provision of en suite facilities in some bedrooms.
Remaining external woodwork (e.g. fascia boards, wooden doors, windows) replaced by powder-coated metal or plastics, with similar appearance but much lower maintenance.Benefits:
- Paid-for electricity consumption has halved over the period, plus we have earned a 10% return on investment on the cost of solar PV panels. See: Stuart Gillies’ home electricity use
- Gas consumption expected to fall by 20-25% compared to five-year average.
- Comfort increased (less heat does not mean less comfort), the temperatures are more constant now.
- Lighting quality increased due to LEDs (2700K colour, brightness, instant on) compared to CFL.
- Overall, with solar FIT payments and import reductions due to efficiency, the house is energy-cost neutral (not carbon neutral).
The wood-burning stove!
Plus the graphs showing falling costs and the FIT cheques from EON.