Existing houses present a much greater challenge than new ones in terms of energy saving. However in terms of reusing building materials they often provide better opportunities.
Patrick and Fiona run a very pleasant bed and breakfast near Nelson, Caerphilly and their house has been the subject of much renovation and extension over the years. Patrick is a builder and after an inspirational visit to CATCentre for Alternative Technology shortly after they first opened, has devoted considerable effort to energy harvesting and heat conservation. Along with that he has made creative use of surplus building materials which have come his way mainly through work.
Rain water harvesting provides flushing water for the toilets.
Along with wind generators, PVPhoto Voltaic. referring to the generation of electricity from sunlight, MVHR and an air source heat pump, there is considerable use of thermal massthis is about how much heat something can absorb - so it involves its specific heat capacity and its volume. It can be useful for levelling out the peaks and troughs of temperature within a house. See the page on thermal mass and passive solar gain.
The south facing elevation (shown above) and its windows allows solar gain which is distributed at first floor level via the landing / passage which runs almost the full length of the house. Thermal mass is provided by the thick stone walls, particularly the massive old seventeenth century masonry surround to the original open fire place and bread oven. This is situated fairly centrally so heat is not lost to external walls.
The roof has been heavily insulated partly using EPexpanded polystyrene insulation offcuts from a local factory.
The self built MVHRMechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery. This is usually a double fan arrangement which extracts stale air from the house and sucks in fresh air at the same time. As the warm stale air is blown out, heat is extracted from it and passed over to the cool incoming air by means of a heat exchanger. With the latest technology, over 90% of the heat can be recovered. (see Passivhaus standard) system provides heat recovery from the cooking area and elsewhere. The heating system is powered by an oil boiler, a wood burning stove and the 4kW electrically driven air source heat pump. There is an underfloor heating system which is based on push fit plumbing pipe set in a 40mm thick vermiculite/cement screed for thermal mass and distribution.
Integral to the whole setup is the electrical generation from wind turbines and PV.
Patrick has acquired an array of generators over the years and often uses ebay to get hold of new and used equipment such as batteries, grid tie inverters etc. The box at the bottom of the picture is an old shipping container where the batteries and other stuff are housed. Unfortunately the planners have recently become involved since a passing lady on a horse complained that the movement of the wind turbines had upset the horse.
This shows some of the control gear and batteries which handle the power generated by the wind and sun. The output power tends to get split three ways depending on what is available and what is required. Some is used directly in the workshop, some is reverse metered into the mains and some can be dumped directly into a hot water cylinder for domestic hot water.
Use of reclaimed building materials has included floor boards, parquet flooring, windows, double glazed units, timber lintels, doors, insulation and floor tiles
They are at Pen Beili Cottage, Ty Du Road, Llanfabon, Nelson, Caerphilly, CF46 6PH.
phone 01443 451688.