Our home, actually started life as a builder’s workshop. It was converted into a home in the 80’s and has seen many renovations since. When we bought the property in 2012 it had an EPC rating of E, with a potential of C.
EPC not the whole picture
There were recommendations from the EPC certificate on how to improve the buildings energy efficiency. This included cavity wall insulation and the replacement of lightbulbs. The latter is more expensive than it sounds! In its last renovation the ceilings had 50 Watt Halogens machine gunned all over them; in the kitchen alone there are 16 of them! We decided to replace with LED’s in the rooms we used often to keep the cost down. The cavity wall insulation was bit of a red herring, when a company came to quote for the work it was found to be already there!
After one winter in the house we knew there was more to energy efficiency than the EPC. The EPC described our double glazing as ‘adequate’ but this did not take into account the state of the wooden frames, which leaked heat like a sieve and let in huge drafts. One of the first things we did was to replace them with modern double glazed units. Although this probably didn’t affect our EPC rating too much, it certainly made a difference the following winter.
Then there was the roof. The signature feature of the house is a clear roof that provides light to the main reception room and the landing. It’s an impressive feature (or it is now). The reason I use the word “clear” is because when we bought the property this was formed of 9 polycarbonate sheets, rather than glass.
Hook Norton Low Carbon Club
We are fortunate to live in a very forward thinking village that takes its carbon footprint seriously. A good thing as there is no gas supply to the village and most homes run on oil. We joined the club (for a £1) and attended one of their open meetings (at the brewery over a pint) to get ideas from the group. After chatting to many helpful people in the group it seems polycarbonate can be more efficient than glass, if it’s fitted well; which ours was not. On debate however, we couldn’t pass up the chance of star gazing through our very own 12ft high glass ceiling! Finding a company that would take the job was a challenge, after a few false starts we choose Chipping Norton Glass who did an excellent job. Once again this work (which was not cheap) probably didn’t improve our EPC rating, but we definitely felt an improvement in heat loss from the house.
The Loan Scheme
As a member of Hook Norton Low Carbon, we were entitled to apply for a loan, this loan can be used for any project that reduces energy consumption and therefore reduce your carbon footprint.
The interest rates were much better than we would get from any bank, with the addition that we got given advice on what we could do to improve the efficiency of our house.
We decided to go with PV panels. At the time there was a great incentive from the government to do this, we also have a south facing roof which was perfect for farming electricity! The club committee approved our loan and before we knew it we were signing the papers (again down the brewery) and accepting the loan. The money was in our account promptly and the payments set up straight away, making the entire process quick and painless.
A few people in the club recommended SolarTech to complete the work, a recommendation I would also be happy to pass on.
The Panels are now on the roof and we are impressed how Stealth they look. From the front you really can’t tell they are up. We are now receiving FIPS payments from our electricity provider and saving money on our electricity bills. The panels have generated 1700KW of power since last winter, which I’m told means they are working well!
We still don’t like that our home is run with oil. It smells, we have to remember to fill up the tank and a lorry has to drive to our house to deliver it; making the carbon footprint even worse. We do use a community buying scheme (again arranged through the club), which helps on price but that doesn’t stop us running out from time to time.
We may look into alternatives such as an air source heat pump. If we do decide to do this we’ll use the advice from the club before proceeding and who knows maybe another loan!