Their ‘eco-bling’ – as they refer to it – includes a 6kw Proven wind turbine, 18 photovoltaic solar panels which give a maximum output of 4kw; a Tatano Kalorina log/pellet/cereal boiler; a rain water harvesting system in which water from the house and barn roofs is stored in an underground tank and pumped back to the house when required, a Puraflow bio-system septic tank and two hot water solar panels.
‘The long term benefits can be calculated in this way:- the turbine produced 12,400 kwh in the first 27 months,’ said Tom. ‘With the Feed in Tariff at 27.5p / kwh this makes £3,410 income in FITS and around £372 in exports. That’s £3,782 total. If this continues at this rate we’ll make £33,617 total income in 20 years. The turbine was not cheap at around £27,000 installed – but we got one of the last capital grants of £2,500 reducing the cost to £24,500. That makes our payback period 14.5 years with then 5.5 years of ‘profit’.’
Meanwhile, the photovoltaics produced 6401 kwh in 16 months. At 41.3p / kwh this worked out at £2,643 FIT income and £96 in export, a total of £2,739. ‘The FITS for PV are guaranteed for 25 years which would give us £51,356 total income over 25 years. The panels cost us £17,000 installed including the scaffolding costs.’ The photovoltaics are proving to be a better investment than the turbine at the moment but if we have a few stormy winters the turbine’s production could catch up,’ says Tom.
With the building water tight, attention turned to the interior, including electrics and plumbing, windows and doors, and plastering throughout. For minimal extra cost the windows were triple glazed throughout. Steel RSJs in the double story extension were manoeuvred into position using ropes and pulleys and supported at the corner with a steel pillar so that the ground floor could remain open into the single story wrap-around. The new timber beams are made with five-year air dried oak.
‘A couple of times I was jolted awake in the middle night by the load cracking of the timbers,’ said Anna. ‘They sounded like gunshots – but Tom managed to sleep through them both.’
Timber and slate tiles for the floors were bought locally then Anna made use of the scaffolding hired for the plasterer to decorate the entire house single-handedly. ‘I painted every wall three times, sealed or painted the woodwork three times and sealed the floors,’ said Anna. ‘It was hard work but rewarding. You hear a lot of disastrous stories about renovations and new builds but we can honestly say we enjoyed the whole process. It was stressful at times, but there were no dramas. We planned everything meticulously and saved money where we could, but there was no time pressure and we had a brilliant team around us. People said it would have been easier to demolish the house and start again, and perhaps it would, but we wanted to keep the essence of the old place. That was the point of this. We kept the layout of the family farmhouse in tact but carried a lot of its character into the new section, so it was renovation and new build side by side. As a result we have the best of both worlds.’
Words Heather Dixon Pictures by Dave Burton