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Patrick and Fiona’s house

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 CAT 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, PV, MVHR and an air source heat pump, there is considerable use of 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.

long landing/passage on the south side

long first floor passage to the south side

rather a nice plumbing detail of what you could do before underfloor heating manifolds became widely available

The roof has been heavily insulated partly using EP offcuts from a local factory.

The self built MVHR 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.

wind generators and PVs

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.

batteries and control gear

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.

electrical dump into the cylinder

the white cable is a 36 volt DC connection into an immersion heater in the cylinder

Use of reclaimed building materials has included floor boards, parquet flooring, windows, double glazed units, timber lintels, doors, insulation and floor tiles

part of an attractive area of reclaimed clay floor tiling in the utilities room

They are at Pen Beili Cottage, Ty Du Road, Llanfabon, Nelson, Caerphilly, CF46 6PH.

phone 01443 451688.

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