Eco Houses

Mactech

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My interest in energy efficiency stemmed from taking up a new challenge in motorsport back in 1985 chief engineer at TWR Jaguar.

Rushing around in circles trying to beat others going nowhere hardly seems the right place to start an ‘eco’ campaign, but the Group C sportscar regulations of the time gave you just 510 litres to cover a 1000kms race. The rule book, other than that premise, was really quite small by today’s standards giving a great degree freedom on engine choice, aerodynamics and tyres.
Much of my work centred around efficiency of the engine, car, tyres, aero, drivers and team.
Being of Scottish decent, the idea of being ‘frugal’ was not foreign to me.
That efficiency drive netted us a number of World Championships and a couple of Le Mans wins.

When I first moved up to Norfolk in early ’92, my company car (Carlos Sainz GT4 Celica) would only just make a return trip to Heathrow on a single tank of fuel. I know there are fuel stations along the way, but not ones with a company account at them! So began my fascination with road car economy without sacrificing speed or fun. I had learnt a few things in the Gp C era.

When I moved away from Norfolk to be closer to Bentley near Crewe, we took on a 200-year grade 2 listed old ‘draughty castle’ as my son called it.
I never really considered the running costs until I retired a few years ago. Energy cost alone were running at almost £9k per year. The stone mullion windows probably lost more heat through the frames than the fact they were not double glazed!

We had become fond of Norfolk, had left family and friends there so decided to retire back there last year. Downsizing was the aim, and if that came with more modest running costs, then that would be a bonus. I have to confess our aims were purely driven by comfort and frugality rather than the higher ‘green’ conviction of saving the planet.
House number 9 out of the 10 we viewed was intriguing. Within 3 miles from where we had previously been, a 10-year-old, individual ‘eco’ house built by the current owners in the land beside their previous home. ‘We built this as our forever home to put right all that was wrong with our previous house’ said the owner.

Then their daughter moved up to Lincolnshire following work….

Amongst the features which gives it an A efficiency rating are:
  • High grade modern insulation.
  • A combination of triple and double glazing.
  • Full underfloor heating upstairs and down.
  • Whole house air vent heat recovery system
  • Massive thermal buffer with heat exchanger hot water.
  • Integrated Solar panel array
  • Full rainwater harvesting
  • High efficiency back up oil fired boiler
  • Permanent hot tap (haven’t boiled a kettle since I arrived)
Over the past two months the house has proved to be very snug and warm indeed with a wide array of customizable comfort settings for every room. We are settling in nicely.
The only currently planned changes are to install a roll top bath in the ensuite and modify the garage internal length by a couple of inches to allow the A8 in.
I was hoping to reduce energy costs by 50% and when added to cleaning and cost of a gardener for the 1-acre plot of the old house, we should see a considerable saving.

But, the current projections in the middle of winter indicate that the energy costs will be about 25% of that of the old draughty castle, which makes me very happy and just a little better about the planet.
IMG_0704.JPG

This is the back of the utility room. Plant room might be a better title. What could possibly go wrong?:dk:
 

Chrishazle

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My wife would have a canary coniption looking at that, she's barely able to use the "advance" or "1 hour" buttons on our central heating controller!!
 
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Mactech

Mactech

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Yes, just the right space for a snug/smug collie dog:)
 

Smart320

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Oh for my late Georgian house with 2ft thick stone walls which we renovated and while not perfect we had a System Boiler for CH /HW in the Garage / Studio with separate wet underfloor heating circuit to the two upstairs bathrooms and a Quooker tap in the kitchen .Conservation grade double glazed sash Windows and a loft with 350/ 400 mm insulation and the house was nice and toasty. Not what most would call an eco house but compared with the 60's built Architect designed house we have just bought it was bliss.
The new house is split level, two stories at front with single at the rear with most of the living area at the rear . Was constructed with a flat roof but had a clever multi pitched roof put on over the original about 20 years ago. This cold weather has made us realise that the complete lack of roof / loft insulation needs to be addressed urgently . Add to that the original front door , single glazed with the wooden frame allowing lots of draughts to enter , plus a 7 X 2.5 m run of single glazed wooden framed windows in the lounge means it's not too warm and costing far too much to heat.
Added to some blown double glazed panels in other windows and 20+ year old blown patio Windows we are in for some hefty bills . Add lousy water pressure in kitchen and the second bathroom and very cold main bathroom which is driving my wife crazy we realise we had got used to comfortable living.
We are now setting about trying to improve its Eco credentials without spending a fortune, although just replacing the big lounge window with Aluminium Double Glazing will cost us around £10 k.
However the saving grace is it has great views over the Bristol Channel and is in the location we wanted and after the unexpected need for me to have a Pacemaker fitted last week we realise that it's all fixable just needs time and more cash than we had planned but not impossible.Roll on next winter
 

Swotty

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My interest in energy efficiency stemmed from taking up a new challenge in motorsport back in 1985 chief engineer at TWR Jaguar.

Rushing around in circles trying to beat others going nowhere hardly seems the right place to start an ‘eco’ campaign, but the Group C sportscar regulations of the time gave you just 510 litres to cover a 1000kms race. The rule book, other than that premise, was really quite small by today’s standards giving a great degree freedom on engine choice, aerodynamics and tyres.
Much of my work centred around efficiency of the engine, car, tyres, aero, drivers and team.
Being of Scottish decent, the idea of being ‘frugal’ was not foreign to me.
That efficiency drive netted us a number of World Championships and a couple of Le Mans wins.

When I first moved up to Norfolk in early ’92, my company car (Carlos Sainz GT4 Celica) would only just make a return trip to Heathrow on a single tank of fuel. I know there are fuel stations along the way, but not ones with a company account at them! So began my fascination with road car economy without sacrificing speed or fun. I had learnt a few things in the Gp C era.

When I moved away from Norfolk to be closer to Bentley near Crewe, we took on a 200-year grade 2 listed old ‘draughty castle’ as my son called it.
I never really considered the running costs until I retired a few years ago. Energy cost alone were running at almost £9k per year. The stone mullion windows probably lost more heat through the frames than the fact they were not double glazed!

We had become fond of Norfolk, had left family and friends there so decided to retire back there last year. Downsizing was the aim, and if that came with more modest running costs, then that would be a bonus. I have to confess our aims were purely driven by comfort and frugality rather than the higher ‘green’ conviction of saving the planet.
House number 9 out of the 10 we viewed was intriguing. Within 3 miles from where we had previously been, a 10-year-old, individual ‘eco’ house built by the current owners in the land beside their previous home. ‘We built this as our forever home to put right all that was wrong with our previous house’ said the owner.

Then their daughter moved up to Lincolnshire following work….

Amongst the features which gives it an A efficiency rating are:
  • High grade modern insulation.
  • A combination of triple and double glazing.
  • Full underfloor heating upstairs and down.
  • Whole house air vent heat recovery system
  • Massive thermal buffer with heat exchanger hot water.
  • Integrated Solar panel array
  • Full rainwater harvesting
  • High efficiency back up oil fired boiler
  • Permanent hot tap (haven’t boiled a kettle since I arrived)
Over the past two months the house has proved to be very snug and warm indeed with a wide array of customizable comfort settings for every room. We are settling in nicely.
The only currently planned changes are to install a roll top bath in the ensuite and modify the garage internal length by a couple of inches to allow the A8 in.
I was hoping to reduce energy costs by 50% and when added to cleaning and cost of a gardener for the 1-acre plot of the old house, we should see a considerable saving.

But, the current projections in the middle of winter indicate that the energy costs will be about 25% of that of the old draughty castle, which makes me very happy and just a little better about the planet.
View attachment 107066

This is the back of the utility room. Plant room might be a better title. What could possibly go wrong?:dk:

See bold - I had the ordinary Celica from '91 to '94 as a company car and loved it. Earlier this year looked at prices for the CS GT4 and was astounded at what they were fetching (I eventually bought a C4 Corvette - much cheaper!)

How was the GT4? I've always looked longingly at them.

On economy/efficiency/insulation, we have a 15th cent farmhouse with 3 ft thick walls ... that is the insulation ... plus a later (1902) house with some insulation. In winter we use c. 30 litres of heating oil per day for u/floor + rads, plus at least one woodburner and sometimes 2. It's a big space at 440m2 but we spend around €3500 a year in heating oil and wood .. plus the 'leccy. It's a 33kw c.h. boiler plus additional 150 litre cumulus.

Your system is very clean - ours is outside in a boiler room and in a basement, so everywhere is covered with cobwebs, mice and bat droppings (2 pipistrelles - lovely things ... apparently they can each eat 3000 mozzies each evening).

Friends converted a ruin and put in lots of insulation plus a geothermal system ... apparently, after the initial cost, it just costs the price of electricity to run the pump, plus a bit of maintenance. They estimate €500 a year to run 365/24/7. I am very envious.

If I found myself able to do so, I'd seriously look at a geothermal system. Also, out here, solar panels are much more effective for longer throughout the year than in the UK.

Well done on your installation!
 
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Mactech

Mactech

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See bold - I had the ordinary Celica from '91 to '94 as a company car and loved it. Earlier this year looked at prices for the CS GT4 and was astounded at what they were fetching (I eventually bought a C4 Corvette - much cheaper!)

How was the GT4? I've always looked longingly at them.
The GT4 Celica was great fun with fantastic traction. It was my 'transitional' car back to some sort of normality after having the use of various development XJ220's for the previous 18 months!
My other road car at the time was a nice Mercedes 124 estate so I had the grace, pace and space areas fairly well covered.
Normality duly arrived in the mid 90's with a series of Toyota Previa company vehicles. How very practical!

Houses, as with most engineering projects, will always be easier if the design intent includes energy efficiency from the start.
Having spent a tidy sum bringing our previous Georgian property up to something like 21st century living standards, the efficiency was never going to get to the same level as a house designed to current 'eco' standards.
I loved the space and grace of Georgian pile, but it was designed in a period when one had staff and the ecology was in its infancy.
Today, global warming and a shrinking pension pot are the more likely realities.
 

SPX

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But, the current projections in the middle of winter indicate that the energy costs will be about 25% of that of the old draughty castle, which makes me very happy and just a little better about the planet.
As you're now experiencing, insulation - pound for pound - is the key to energy usage reduction in housing; the more Passivhaus built, the better!
 

knighterrant

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About 40 years ago one of my brothers (an architect) designed and built this ugly but very eco efficient house near Richmond Park in London. The south facing “greenhouse” facia heated up well even in winter and that heat was ducted to the rear of the house where it followed a cyclical flow through the house, warming it on the way. The interior layout encouraged the warming air flow. I think he also put in a ground-source heat pump (he, recently installed one at his daughter’s farm house near Glasgow). He built in a whole host of other eco features that were completely novel at the time but old hat now. He moved to a much nicer looking but no doubt far less eco friendly house in Oxford about 20 years ago.

600FA271-7C01-4F22-B666-0D14099BFEDE.jpg
 
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Mactech

Mactech

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About 40 years ago one of my brothers (an architect) designed and built this ugly but very eco efficient house near Richmond Park in London. The south facing “greenhouse” facia heated up well even in winter and that heat was ducted to the rear of the house where it followed a cyclical flow through the house, warming it on the way. The interior layout encouraged the warming air flow. I think he also put in a ground-source heat pump (he, recently installed one at his daughter’s farm house near Glasgow). He built in a whole host of other eco features that were completely novel at the time but old hat now. He moved to a much nicer looking but no doubt far less eco friendly house in Oxford about 20 years ago.
Yes, the 'kerb appeal' has no comparison between old and new, but that was not high on the agenda for a downsize.
We were not actively seeking an eco house as almost anything was going to be less expensive to run!
P1030084.JPG

402d27201b52930a6e5ef9167019170332409c4a.jpg
This just happened to be in the right location with all the facilities we were looking for.
The Eco credentials were just a bonus.
 

Railwayman

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About 40 years ago one of my brothers (an architect) designed and built this ugly but very eco efficient house near Richmond Park in London. The south facing “greenhouse” facia heated up well even in winter and that heat was ducted to the rear of the house where it followed a cyclical flow through the house, warming it on the way. The interior layout encouraged the warming air flow. I think he also put in a ground-source heat pump (he, recently installed one at his daughter’s farm house near Glasgow). He built in a whole host of other eco features that were completely novel at the time but old hat now. He moved to a much nicer looking but no doubt far less eco friendly house in Oxford about 20 years ago.

View attachment 107090
Ugly? Not to my eye, think it has a certain appeal. :)
 

Rory

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This is the back of the utility room. Plant room might be a better title. What could possibly go wrong?:dk:

These installation always look so randomly put together - I wonder if there's much planning, or if it's all in the installers head?

Fault finding, for other than major issues, looks like it'd be fun!
 

Darrell

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These installation always look so randomly put together - I wonder if there's much planning, or if it's all in the installers head?

Fault finding, for other than major issues, looks like it'd be fun!
This is very neat and it’ll definitely be in the installers head.

What kind of fault finding are you thinking about?
 
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Mactech

Mactech

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These installation always look so randomly put together - I wonder if there's much planning, or if it's all in the installers head?

Fault finding, for other than major issues, looks like it'd be fun!
Yes, I can see what you mean.
To me it is a bit like Hifi separates. There are a lot of specialist firms involved in making the different parts.
There will rarely be two systems the same so there is no single box combination to cover all the options.
Many audiophiles will use only certain components from certain brands which play well together to create their ideal system.....I know I do!

In my heating system there are manufactures for:

Oil fired condemning boiler
Water softener
Thermal buffer
Heat exchangers
Pressure vessels
Solar panel controllers
Harvested rain water supplies and controller
Underfloor heating manifolds and supplies
Main heating controls
Heat recovery system
Solar heat inverter and connection to the grid

and a host of other things!

They will have needed a decent sparky and plumber to make it all work, but most of the systems can be isolated from each other so fault finding should not be too difficult.....fun even!

....but I'm not intending to make it my hobby.
 

Piff

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Amongst the features which gives it an A efficiency rating are:
  • High grade modern insulation.
  • A combination of triple and double glazing.
  • Full underfloor heating upstairs and down.
  • Whole house air vent heat recovery system
  • Massive thermal buffer with heat exchanger hot water.
  • Integrated Solar panel array
  • Full rainwater harvesting
  • High efficiency back up oil fired boiler
  • Permanent hot tap (haven’t boiled a kettle since I arrived)
Over the past two months the house has proved to be very snug and warm indeed with a wide array of customizable comfort settings for every room. We are settling in nicely.
The only currently planned changes are to install a roll top bath in the ensuite and modify the garage internal length by a couple of inches to allow the A8 in.
I was hoping to reduce energy costs by 50% and when added to cleaning and cost of a gardener for the 1-acre plot of the old house, we should see a considerable saving.

But, the current projections in the middle of winter indicate that the energy costs will be about 25% of that of the old draughty castle, which makes me very happy and just a little better about the planet.
View attachment 107066

This is the back of the utility room. Plant room might be a better title. What could possibly go wrong?:dk:
We have most of what you have there except the hot water tap and have an air source heat pump instead of the oil boiler.
Rainwater harvesting is great for car washing. We also use it to flush toilets but have disconnected the washing machine from the system as it tended to sludge up. Filter in the tank needs a regular clean due to pigeon poo & dust from the roof. We have also had a pump fail after about 6 or 7 years. Manufacturer discounted a replacement.
Heat recovery ventilation is also great as you have a ventilated house even through winter without opening windows & no condensation - change or clean the filters monthly.
We are all electric and annual electric bill is around £1,150.
Cash back from solar panels & RHI is around £2,750 so we are pocketing £1,600 a year to live in a snug house.
 

Londonscottish

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My wife would have a canary coniption looking at that, she's barely able to use the "advance" or "1 hour" buttons on our central heating controller!!
Firstly; this Le Mans thing. Obviously, I knew about your XJ220 shenanigans from here. But, randomly, I was showing my son one of my favourite bits of motorsport footage the other day - Tom Walkinshaw nailing Bathurst in his XJS - when YouTube served up a Jag owners club video of you and the team recalling the Jaguar Le Mans victories of 88 and 90. I had no idea, but it all makes sense now.

Anyway, eco homes. Great idea. I was really interested when Harry Metcalfe built his a few years ago.

For all the energy I save by not driving much, I burn plenty through my boiler......

My house is refurbed and (relatively) well insulated but there's a lot of glazing going on.....

In this country we are awful at the whole concept, in general.

We could learn a lot from our Nordic & German cousins.
 

Swotty

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The GT4 Celica was great fun with fantastic traction. It was my 'transitional' car back to some sort of normality after having the use of various development XJ220's for the previous 18 months!
My other road car at the time was a nice Mercedes 124 estate so I had the grace, pace and space areas fairly well covered.
Normality duly arrived in the mid 90's with a series of Toyota Previa company vehicles. How very practical!

Houses, as with most engineering projects, will always be easier if the design intent includes energy efficiency from the start.
Having spent a tidy sum bringing our previous Georgian property up to something like 21st century living standards, the efficiency was never going to get to the same level as a house designed to current 'eco' standards.
I loved the space and grace of Georgian pile, but it was designed in a period when one had staff and the ecology was in its infancy.
Today, global warming and a shrinking pension pot are the more likely realities.
Thanks - the incidental mention of XJ220s reminds me ...

... I saw one once. :)

You sound to have had a real petrol head's career ..... I am very, very envious!
 

Chrishazle

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Once working in Aberdeen I saw an XJ220 owned by the owner of the company next door to where I was working, he'd driven it to work but never got out of 3rd gear on the drive in! Looked epic, made my 944 Lux look distinctly 2nd class!
 

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