Update on Soo and Malcolm's house in Southbourne

[In February 2010 Malcolm and Soo reported on their efforts to make their Southbourne home as energy efficient as possible with air-source heat pump, insulation, solar thermal, solar PV. Here's an update.]

Letter below didn’t make it t

o the Echo but in the Advertiser 3.11.11 which one kind friend alerted me to and another has just given me her copy. It’s under the heading “Solar array is producing good amounts of power,” with a pic of some panels (not ours).

Drizzly days are very poor (only 0.5 , 0.9,). Winter months score quite a bit worse.

Total: 3,464 KW for year Oct 10- Oct 11. We used 9,923KW (terrible- recommend hibernation) as I keep it at 20 degrees- Malc feels the cold, even upstairs. Big place to house Malc’s fab archive.

Feed-in-tariff took a year to deliver first cheque of over £1,000. Now getting quarterly (nearly £200- not as good as hoped). Not the best rate as we went for more panel coverage (4.7 KW) than recommended (over 4 whatever it was) so only I think 37p a KW, instead of 43p KW (?). It’s also 3.1p for our 50% “deemed export.” Yingli 235.

Cost £17,474 after the fiasco of calling the installer back for 2nd inverter, plus £850 for removal of 2 east side ( where there are now 12 panels) chimneypots. On the west we have a dormer window so only 8 panels. Malc thinks it’ll be a very long payback but who know what electricity’ll cost in a couple of years. Only gas now in the house is bottled (like some family members) for over Christmas.

Solar thermal (£5,000-ish) on south -facing balcony, handily feeds straight into water-tank. Works with air-source heat pump (£7,700 ) for good heating results tho downstairs is cooler: big kitchen extension. Malc mostly upstairs thanks to wonder-reconditioned-Stannah. A weep from the water tank (or was it me?) went on for a while despite 3-4 callouts last year, fixed eventually. Also the air-source heat pump mysteriously started giant-crashing-around-upstairs noises, which confusingly started at the same time as a nothing-to-do-with-it squeak from the loo system. Just as mysteriously noises have now stopped.

Malc wasn’t happy at night with the vibes from the heat pump so they took it off the wall, put it on legs. A nice bonus is the water I collect from underneath to flush the loo.

Cavity wall insulation (£1,000 worth; free to us lucky pensioners) went in a year ago, was a top-up. Also had new carpets & front door to eliminate draughts.

When I have time in another decade I’ll try & compare bills.

Ambition in life to have compost loo (as in Dick Strawbridge’s “It’s Not Easy Being Green” prog ) meantime using butt water/shower water and donations of wee to compost. Friend of Earth Conference had, “When it’s yellow let it mellow, When it’s brown flush it down” notices on loo doors but that tends to stain the bowl (cured with lemon juice but bit of a palaver). Best was Climate Camp- choice of buy cialis online without a prescription loo with hay bales etc tho’ you have to know what you’re going to do beforehand which ain’t always poss, says the old girl. Bathwater’s reused too. I’m told soldiers use v little water for personal dailies so trying to copy good example. Jug & bowl anyone?

Inspired by Mark’s forest garden but ours has turned into an allotment. Fruit trees apple, pear, plum. Soft fruit throughout summer ; strawbs, raspberries, loganberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, whitecurrants, blackberries and M’s fave- golden raspberries-still, incredibly, picking after much second fruiting. Teeny weeny pippy grapes, quite sweet. Greens still growing (& I remember even picking small amounts through snowy times), runner beans until my wigwam fell over in high winds. A few tomatoes, lots of lettuce. Passion fruit struggling a bit- not had fruit this year (changed location).

Just dug out last of taties a week ago. Courgette flowers nobbled by something this year (fox prime suspect) but good results last year. Malc used to do slug patrol at bedtime with a torch and big foot. I’ve tried the (fiddly, expensive, kind) beer-pots but now tend to squash when I see ‘em. Sorry but you’re in our garden. Hugh F-W tried a slug recipe but it wasn’t v nice. Snails are allegedly better- you have to feed them for a week on lettuces or something. Have not tried yet.

Malc did quite a long report for Transition website a couple of years ago.

Green Party Open Meeting tomorrow- Moordown Community Centre 10-12 morning.

Keystone XL pipeline (tar sands) deferral- Obama has mercifully listened to the 12,000 activists who surrounded the White House but grim news from IEA re global fossil overload “World given 2017 climate deadline” Guardian p 3 yesterday.

Happy 11.11.11 (11.11. & 11 secs)

SC

Dear Sir,

The urgent need to find low-carbon, clean, energy sources meant we’ve installed renewables in our house which are generally working well. Mike Roberts-Butler (Echo letters 19.10.11) finds solar panels “a horrendous eyesore” and questions their viability. There are alas many uglier (eg oil wells) and more dangerous (eg coal mines) sources of energy.

Our solar array has had teething problems but is now producing good amounts of electricity; 3,867.6 kilowatts over the last 15 months. The first three months were very poor as a second inverter had to be installed on our east/west roofs. I am monitoring daily. The best day was 8th June (23.9KW), the best week 17-24th April (130.9 KW) with other very close contenders over the summer. The worst days were 2nd & 3rd December when snow was on the roofs- nothing at all! Four friends have written to me of their good PV results; one in Australia (hardly surprising!)

I’ve been astonished by the daily variability of results and it has made me much more energy aware. The washing machine and other items are used in the day with apparently fractional electricity use. The heating in our largish house is what really adds up, despite much insulation. Mike Roberts-Butler expresses his dismay at the planning system. I am astonished that our planners allow such poor building regulations and that there is complacent acceptance of our heat- leaky homes. Passivhauses, being super insulated, do not need external sources of energy.

Yours faithfully,

Susan Chapman

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