Friday, 24 September 2010

Mike aims to be self-sufficient in space and water heating

Three years ago Mike Pepler, our UK Awards Manager, and his wife Tracy, bought an eight-acre wood. This year they bought a house. Now they are going to heat the house with the logs from the wood.

Below, Mike explains how he and Tracy plan to be almost entirely self-sufficient in space and water heating.

In a series of posts, appearing on his own blog, Mike also gives step-by-step descriptions about how to insulate the cavity walls, sweep the chimney and install the stove.

"Tracy and I bought our eight-acre woodland in 2007, as it seemed like a good investment with energy prices rising, and the property price bubble had put us off buying a house at that point. Since then we've been managing the woodland to produce logs and have been selling them to friends, but now we've finally bought our own house, the first priority was to make changes so we could heat it using our own logs.

Our goals in doing this are two-fold: becoming more self-sufficient in the energy we use at home, and reducing CO2 emissions. Supplying some of our own energy needs is important to us, as we believe energy prices will continue to rise over the coming years as supplies struggle to meet demand, and the UK's energy security cannot be taken for granted. Reducing CO2 emissions is also important, as the threat of climate change affects everyone.

Achieving these two goals is not just about installing a wood stove though. Demand must be tackled first, which is why we're insulating the cavity walls and upgrading the loft insulation; the windows are already double-glazed. All the lights in the house are low energy, and we buy our electricity from Ashden Award winner Ecotricity. Because we've removed the gas boiler, we also needed an alternative for water heating in the summer, when it's too warm to light the wood stove. Rather than use the immersion heater, we're installing solar water heating to deal with this.

The end result will hopefully be that we are entirely self-sufficient in space and water heating, apart from the small amount of electricity for running water pumps, and that the only CO2 emissions will be the fuel used in our chainsaws and the vehicle to bring logs back from the wood, which is only five miles away. We'll be monitoring our savings on gas and electricity, and also the amount of wood we burn, so there'll be some results to report over the coming year."

coming soon:
- plumbing and commissioning the stove;
- solar water heating
- insulating the loft

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