Treading Softly - Environmentally considerate living in a rural english home and garden

Treading Softly

Energy and Fuels

Energy Efficiency Certificate - May 2011Living in the countryside we do not have mains gas but we do have a number of other energy sources in place, the combination of which is providing us with good fuel security and a buffer against energy supply interruption.

Our energy sources

With the exception of electricity, our energy sources are all acquired and stored on the premises in advance of their use:

(1) Heating Oil is stored in a 2,600 litre tank and fuels the Condenser Boiler on the kitchen wall which provides space and water heating for the house.

(2) Bottled Gas is stored in 2 x 19 Kg Bottles outside the kitchen and provides fuel for the Gas Hob for cooking.

(3) Wood logs are delivered in July, stacked and stored to fuel the Wood Burning Stove in the lounge in the winter months.

(4) Petrol is stored in 5 litre 'cans' and while mainly used to run the garden equipment, it also fuels a suitcase-size generator. In the event of an electricity power cut it can be linked to the central heating's electrical system to provide power to the boiler and the central heating clock. It will additionally generate enough power for a light or two, a PC and the TV for a few hours or as long as the petrol supply lasts.

Ecotricity Wind power (5) Only our mains electricity (supplied by Ecotricity's wind turbines via the National Grid and EDF) is outside our control. Where possible, we diversify away from mains electric appliances/devices to minimise our dependence on this energy source. e.g. the cooker hob is bottled gas and only the oven is electric.

We think the five diverse energy sources are a hedge against dependency on any one fuel, and should reduce the impact on us of mains electricity interruptions.

Other alternatives

A few years ago we did research and assess adding a wind generator to the plot, but a local weather station's archive of local wind speeds indicated it would not be worthwhile. Instead we use Ecotricity's wind energy as our mains electricity supply.

We are researching and assessing installing a Ground source heat pump under the meadow. However, while that would save us Heating Oil, it would increase our need for mains electricity.

Solar Panels to supply hot water for the sunniest 6 months of the year have been considered, but it is most unlikely that we would be able to obtain planning permission because of our situation in a Conservation Area. If the conservation area regulations were to change, we would certainly plan to install it.

Energy Efficiency Rating

We are pleased that our May 2011 certificate shows that the building is as about as energy efficient as it's fabric and infrastructure will allow, with the current rating almost the same as the potential rating. We feel we have just about done as much as we can, (except acquire solar panels for hot water) and the certificate reflects this. Of course, this rating only considers the space heating, hot water and lighting aspects of the building. Our initiatives on appliances and energy-saving behaviours are not reflected in the rating.