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!

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.

Steadily firming up the shopping list for our new house – here’s the latest list, with links. 

Kitchen

Dining Room

  • Expandable table

Playroom

  • Instant-heat to stand in front of (Gas?)

Lounge

  • Wood-fired stove
  • Central Pendant light in diffusing shade – 12v CFL?
  • Two Standard/Reading Lamps – 12v CFL?

Garden

  • Kitchen Scraps Compost: Black Soldier Fly Composter / Worm Farm 
  • Firewood store, and at least 12m³ of wood
  • Greenhouse with Aquaponics system

Heating & Hot Water

Power & Light

Water

Having posted about predictions that cheaper Solar Panels were on the way in 2009 here we are, less than a month later, and cheaper panels are popping up. OK I’m prepared to admin that this might not be a great economic shift – it might just be that I missed this supplier last time. They are Japanese-made Sharp panels and they are £2.99/Watt. I’ve updated the table of prices below – no other prices have changed, but the 200w Kyocera seems to have dropped off the market. Still a little way to go before we get down to the forecast $2.50/Watt!

EDIT – I’ve also added Navitron to the list – not sure how I missed them first time. Keen prices at £3.72/Watt.

Supplier Manufacturer Watts £ inc VAT £/Watt
Eco-nomical Sharp 180 538 2.99
Navitron Navitron 110 409 3.72
Wind and Sun BP – 3 Series 160 669.3 4.18
Wind and Sun BP – 3 series 170 727.95 4.28
Marlec BP – 3 Series 125 536 4.29
Marlec BP – 3 Series 135 579 4.29
Wind and Sun BP – 4 Series 175 772.8 4.42
Marlec BP – 3 Series 80 358 4.48
Unlimited Power SunPower 90 471.5 5.24
Unlimited Power Sanyo 215 1331 6.19

pv_bp7seriesIt seems that cheaper solar panels are on the way in 2009. I’d heard this earlier in the year with regard to new Chinese suppliers coming onstream, but now the forecast drop in prices is accelerating as a result of drop-off in demand from Spain and Germany.

By the end of 2009 average prices for panels for new installation contracts will collapse to the $2.50 to $2.75 per watt range, down from the current level of $4.20 per watt. The overall average price for the year will be $3.10 per watt, Wicht predicted.

 I’ve just done my quick survey of available Photovoltaic Panels, and the lowest price I’ve found is £4.18 /Watt – so it looks like we’ve got a little way to go before we get down to $2.50/Watt!

Supplier Manufacturer Watts £ inc VAT £/Watt
Wind and Sun BP – 3 Series 160 669.3 4.18
Wind and Sun BP – 3 series 170 727.95 4.28
Marlec BP – 3 Series 125 536 4.29
Marlec BP – 3 Series 135 579 4.29
Wind and Sun BP – 4 Series 175 772.8 4.42
Marlec BP – 3 Series 80 358 4.48
Unlimited Power KYOCERA 200 920 4.60
Unlimited Power SunPower 90 471.5 5.24
Unlimited Power Sanyo 215 1331 6.19

The downside? Less investment in the industry is likely to result. This, in combination with the lower investement we’re seeing in Oil Exploration & Production as a result of the drop in Oil Prices could have some serious implications for ongoing energy security.

So make sure you get your panels – and then go next door and make sure they’re putting some up too!

iZip Street Enlightened
iZip Street Enlightened

Saw one of these in our local bike shop when we were in there picking up a new tube. It’s an iZip Street Enlightened – looks like a normal fast hybrid but the aero down tube is wrapped around a battery pack – a 24V / 10 AH Lithium-Ion pack for those of you feeling Techie. This powers it to 30kph(19mph) with a range of 50km (30 miles). It has a whole range of clever torque-sensing options so you can use it as anything from fully-electric to fully-pedal-powered depending on how stuffed you’re feeling. It is heavy (25kg) so don’t aim to be carrying it up any stairs or jumping too many kerbs.

Part of me loves this, but then the little nagging voice in my head (the anti-consumer, fed by Amber at Unstuffed) says “you already have four bikes – and only use one regularly. You don’t need another bike”. And then the little peak-oil, voice says . . . “and that battery pack looks very custom-made – I bet getting spares will be a challenge in the future” – and when you think that the only major spare I’ve bought for my Orange mountain  bike has been a new inner tube . . you realise that simple is probably best (and that I need to ride more 🙂 ).  And I don’t have that many problems riding my current bike that this would solve.

Plus it is £1000+ – and that money would be better spent on Solar PV I think. If you’re still interested – possibly to get a non-cyclist out of a car, or for a longish commute – you can buy them from Top Electric Bikes or Tredz, and they’re made by Currie Tech in the USA, who do have a whole range – and some much cheaper models too (not as sexy though . . )

Remote, Off-Grid Wind power from 12 VoltzHave seen these guys recommended before – their website isn’t stunning: http://www.12voltz.com/, but they seem to really know what they’re doing, and the issues around alternative energy sources.

They have a lot of electrical experience – so could be great for helping me to decide the best systems, including backup batteries, voltages etc. I’ll look them up when we get back.