Trafford Eco House

Our latest planning application is in – we’ve made many, many, changes to placate the council but have managed to keep the main elements that improve the house’s performance:

  • 200mm of external insulation
  • Extensive solar PV
  • Locally-made triple-glazed windows
  • A large thermal store, heated by solar thermal and a woodburner

Overall we’re still targeting a reduction in heating requirement of up to 95%, and to be a net producer of energy. All of this can only get built though if we can get planning approval though, and to date that has been difficult.

We need your help

We need to show that there is support for this type of sustainable building. We’re getting our neighbours to write letters of support, and add supporting comments to the planning application online – but the more we can get, the better.

What you can do – by November 27

Have a look at the planning documents, our application number is 81791/HHA/2013  and the documents can be seen here

If you have any questions, please contact us and I’ll do my best to get back to you quickly. If you’re happy then please send in a supportive comment. You can do that in three ways:

Online

The quickest way is to add your comment using the council’s online form with our application number – 81791/HHA/2013

Send an email

Or you can send your response to planning@trafford.gov.uk. Please be sure to include the planning application number (81791/HHA/2013), your name and address and your comments.

Snail mail

You can write to the Chief Planning Officer, but please be quick – we need all comments in by the 27th of November:
Planning and Building Control, PO Box 96, Waterside House, Sale Waterside, Tatton Road, Sale M33 7ZF

 

Please do what you can – we only have until November 27 to get comments in!

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It’s been a great 2010 at the Trafford Eco-House, we’ve not posted updates recently not due to lack of activity, but the opposite!

The garden’s been going well and we’ve got trout and beds of winter veg surviving the snow. The pace isn’t going to stop in 2011 though, this is the year when the changes to the house should happen: Solar PV, Solar Thermal, Woodburner with Flue Boiler, extension with bike garage, wrap the whole thing in external insulation, put up much thicker curtains.

The garden in 2011 will keep us busy too – we’ll fix up the shed and give it a green roof, expand the aquaponics, and dig over another 500sqft of turf into veg patch.

Looks like a fantastic year ahead, and we’re really looking forward to what we’ll be saying this time next year.

Hope you’ve all had a good 2010, and are looking forward to an even better 2011.

We’ve not been posting much the last two days because we’ve been busy getting the word out, with great results. It’s been a crazy couple of days, but here are the results:

Normal service will resume shortly. We’re about to order the polytunnel and have been busy mulching trees, changing energy suppliers, and other exciting tasks.

OK, I’ll be up front, this is a little bit of a joke post, but I just bought the Victory Cookbook and there are lots of interesting food snippets in it to share. It’s a compilation of three of Marguerite Patten’s during and post-war cookbooks, and so is great for frugal, ration-based cooking. One of the items that caught my eye was called “Save that Fat”:

Collect all the oddments of fat that you can from frying pans, baking tins and stews. Melt and strain them all into a big bowl and wash them by pouring on some boiling water (you will need about a pint of water for 2 oz of fat). When the liquid solidifies, lift off the solid fat and scrape the sediment off the bottom; it is now quite suitable for frying or roasting. Wise housewives will take this a step further. They will heat the at up again until it stops bubbling. This means that it is quite free from moisture and will keep literally indefinitely. It can be saved for anything, even cake making.

Not sure about you, but that was new to me! Now I can’t cook a pan of sausages without feeling I shouldn’t be throwing the fat away – surely this is some of the ultimate recycling.  Maybe one of these days I’ll become a “Wise Eco-Housewife” and try it. I might leave a note explaining to the Paramedics what I’ve done though.

As part of our Energy Descent Plan we’re trying to progressively reduce our energy consumption – fuel for the car, electricity and gas in the house. This’ll save us significant money but also will reduce our carbon footprint and dependance on Fossil Fuels.

The first thing is to work out how much energy we’re using, and to that end we’ve started measuring it monthly. We’ve just finished the second month of monitoring our car usage, although they have been two crazy months (due to moving in to the eco-house) so the results may not be typical of our normal lifestyle. We’re converting all our energy use to kWh/day so that we can compare fuel/electricity/gas on an equal basis:

Month Miles MPG Litres Used kWh kWh/day
June 429 46 42.4 454 15.12
July 423 47.2 40.74 436 14.06

So we’ve already seen a significant drop in our daily energy consumption from the car 😀

I’d have to say that is a bit of a fluke – we haven’t tried particularly hard to reduce our consumption yet. It’ll be interesting to see how our consumption changes as we settle into our new routines here.

As it’s the first of the month I’ve just taken the first Gas and Electric readings in the eco-house so we can work out our standard consumption for those next month too – it’ll be interesting reading and will give us a base to measure our changes.

One of the first learning  points from this is that if we had a plug-in electric car we’d have to have at least 15 kWp of solar panels installed – that is a LOT of solar panels. It makes you realise how big an impact the car has on our energy consumption.

Almond Trees Just took delivery of the first trees for the forest section of our eco-house garden. These have a dual purpose – they’re also the trees we’re planting for the littlie’s naming day we’re having on the weekend. These are Almond trees – Prunus Dulcis ‘Robijn’. And apparently we can expect them to fruit, even up here in chilly wet Manchester. OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, I think we will need to get some sun to get reliable fruit on them. This particular variety don’t flower until May so if they’re in a nice, south-facing sheltered area the flowers should avoid frost and therefore survive to fruit. And just in case I’m wondering what those Almonds would look like – there is one on each tree!

An Almond Another Almond

They’re pretty impressive trees – probably about 180 cm tall already, lots of nicely pruned branches. It’s been quite hard getting tham at this time of year (most of the trees we’ll get will go in bare-rooted in November time) but we found these potted trees at Flora Select and they have been really helpful all the way through the process and delivered them on the day they said they would. Here’s the info they have on these trees:

Prunus dulcis is a small bushy deciduous tree native to Asia and North Africa having pretty pink blossoms and highly prized edible nuts enclosed in a hard green hull.
Fruiting will start two to three years after planting. The flesh of the fruit can be eaten as Almonds are closley related to Peaches and Nectarines.

Plant in well drained fertile soil. Avoid heavy pruning as Almonds flower on second year wood.

  • Eventual Height: 4 mts
  • Eventual Spread: 4 mts
  • Full Sun
  • Deciduous
  • Fragrant
  • Flowering Time: April-May

Now I just have to dig the holes ready for the planting to happen at the Naming Day party on Sunday! That’ll be fun.

OurVictoryGarden

The bottom half of our garden was a victory garden during the war – and we’ve managed to get hold of a picture! It’ll be very interesting to compare the traditional row-and-path planting they’ve got here with the wide-bed garden that we’re planning.

Many thanks go to the previous owners for leaving this picture for us!