Meet the

Meet our energy saving pioneers.

Faringdon, Stanford in the Vale, St Denys Close


House Summary

Owners: Contact: Zoë Williams
House Type: 1958 bungalow
Carbon Saving: 93%
Installed Measures:
  • Electric car (Nissan Leaf).
  • Sun oven (cooking with mirrors).
  • Fireless cooking (using insulation to save 40-50% of the fuel).
  • Chest freezer converted into a top opening fridge to improve efficiency.
  • ‘Bum gun’ bidet sprayer, to allow washing with water, and reduce toilet paper consumption.
  • Using ‘Streetbank’ to reduce the need to own every item. This website allows people to lend and borrow things with neighbours.
  • One super-efficient toilet, and another which is attached to a basin, so the grey-water is reused the next time it is flushed.
  • Triple glazing.
  • Wildlife pond/garden (but generally overgrown!).
  • Personal Story:

    We moved here in 1987 and we’ve all come at the projects from slightly different angles. Although this has made for some frustrating decision making, the fact that we are all taking more pride in the house has made it a much more satisfying place to live.

    Having initially topped up the loft insulation, one of the next changes we made was to rip out the Leylandii hedge and start planting native plants. We don’t have much skill, time or knowledge as gardeners, so we were surprised and delighted when wildlife started coming to visit. In 1999 we added a wildlife pond and while it was still filling we saw the first damselfly – wonderful!

    The old windows were replaced gradually over a number of years, and we have gradually made other changes, one step at a time. Zoë is studying with the Open University with the long-term aim of a degree in environmental studies.


    We are concerned about climate change and waste. We wanted to reduce our environmental impact and carbon emissions and also to minimise monthly bills.

    When our oil boiler needed replacing we chose wood pellets because we wanted to avoid fossil fuels where possible.

  • Property:

    The house was built in 1958 and we moved here in 1987. Being a bungalow, it’s quite spread out so insulation is especially important. There is no mains gas.

  • Benefits:

    The house is warmer and more comfortable with the replacement windows and loses its heat much less rapidly.

    We cut our electricity consumption by about half and the income from the solar PV panels was enough to pay for our electricity and water bills, as well as part of our heating costs.

    Then we switched to an electric car, which means we use more electricity again now. Some of it comes straight from the solar panels, and we’re very happy to have made the switch.

    We were also impressed by how well the solar thermal panels have heated our water, although they are very old and are probably no longer working. We hope to replace them someday.

    Favourite Feature:

    Three favourite features:

    1) The solar cookers – because what could be more satisfying than eating food cooked with heat directly from the sun? Solar cooking has enormous potential around the world – to address deforestation and reduce fuel consumption. This is a particularly fun thing to share with new people, as not many have experienced cooking with sunshine.

    2) The wood pellet boiler. It means that we have plenty of heat without burning fossil fuels. One thing we like about the pellets is that we can see exactly how much we’re burning whereas with oil we couldn’t. The boiler cost £10,000 but we are receiving the Renewable Heat Incentive, which is paying that cost back over time. It’s quite noisy so we had it installed in what had previously been a utility room. The room had been unheated but, now it’s warm, we’ve made it into a very pleasant extra living room.

    3) The solar PV panels. We enjoy generating our own electricity, and plotting generation and consumption through (we like a bit of scientific data!). It is exciting and motivating to live in a power station!

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