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Andrew Hunt project

The House

Green Cottage - eco-renovation of a turn of last century Victorian end-terrace in Lancashire.

Vital Statistics

This property was built between 1700-1920. It is a end-terrace house with 2 bedrooms, located in an inner-city area in the North West. The household is a couple with no children, with an average occupancy of 2 all year round. No planning restrictions are in effect.

Annual Energy Use

Electricity: 4,190.00 kWh (Renewable)

About us and why we did it

I work as a Sustainability Officer for a local Council, and have a long-standing interest in energy issues, climate change and fossil fuel depletion. 

Latest case studies:

I have always wanted to live in an eco-house, and my home renovation project of a very ordinary Victorian terraced house has made that dream a reality.

Heating and Power

The existing gas central heating system was converted to run on wood fuel and solar power.

I disconnected the existing radiator system from the gas combination boiler which was running it when I bought the house, and connected it up to a new wood burning stove which I installed in the fireplace in the living room.

When I converted the central heating system, I also installed a new dual-coil hot water storage cylinder in the bedroom above the wood stove in the living room. The wood stove heats the stored hot water by convection, then when the cylinder reaches 60 degrees centigrade, a thermostat on the return pipe to the stove switches on a pump which begins to circulate hot water around the radiators.

In the summer, the cylinder is heated by a solar hot water system.

Power Generation

The house uses solar photovoltaic panels and a battery back-up system for power security and low carbon emissions

In the house there are two ring-mains - one which serves the heavy duty appliances in the kitchen such as the hob, cooker and washing machine, and a second one which serves the rest of the house.

When considering solar PV for electricity generation, I didn't like the idea that I would still lose power during a power cut if the system was grid-connected. So I went for a hybrid system, which doesn't feed excess power into the grid but stores it in batteries, will work during a power cut for several days, and can also take mains electricity when it is available.

I currently have 330Wp of solar PV (to be expanded to around 700-900Wp eventually), connected to a 720Ah battery bank and an inverter-battery charger, which serves my second (low power) ring main. The inverter/charger is a 1.5kW pure sine wave inverter which can take a 240V mains input, or can run off the batteries and solar PV in the absence of mains electricity.

In the summer the system will run for around a week at a time before the batteries need to be recharged from the mains. Further PV addition should improve this so that it runs pretty much constantly over the summer months. In the winter when the PV isn't working, the batteries can be charged from the mains and in UPS mode the inverter will switch over to the batteries during a power cut, which will last us for 3 days or so, giving us desk lamps, TV (using a laptop and TV card), central heating pump, solar pump and general electrical gadgetry which makes life much more bearable during a power cut. The only thing we can't use during a power cut are the heavy-duty kitchen appliances. The fridge plugs into the low-power system during a power cut.

Pic: Solar Photo Voltaic, Electricity

Water and Sewage

Basic water efficiency measures have been used, nothing fancy though.

We have only made fairly basic water efficiency improvements - the installation of a water butt in the garden, a dual-flush toilet and spray nozzles on the bathroom taps all help to reduce water consumption.

We do have a dishwasher and a washing machine but they are both 'A' rated for energy and water efficiency.


We have had the standard 250mm of loft insulation installed.
We installed 250mm of loft insulation under a Scottish Power discount insulation scheme a few years ago - most utilities offer these schemes under the Government's Energy Efficiency Commitment.

Unfortunately our house does not have a wall cavity and so we can't install cavity wall insulation. We have no intention of getting external insulation done - far too expensive! The nice thick Accrington brick walls of our home give a good thermal mass though.

Summer Cooling

The high thermal mass of our old house helps to keep it cool in the summer.
We are lucky in that our living room is on the North-facing side of the house, but houses the wood stove which heats the house in the winter.

So in the winter, the living room is the warmest room in the house, and in the summer it is deliciously cool, even in the hottest weather. The high thermal mass of the house means that the North side stays very cool, like a larder, even whilst the back of the house is baking in the midday sun.


Compact Fluorescent Lamps throughout mean a very low electricity bill for lighting.

All the lights in the house are Compact Fluorescent Lamps, otherwise known as energy-saving bulbs.

We tend only to use low-power desk lamps rather than the 'big light' in each room. As the desk lamps run from the solar PV/battery system, this means that we get free electricity to run the house's lighting, and also that we have lighting even during a power cut.


All appliances are energy efficient appliances, under the European rating system.
Every appliance in the house is chosen for its low energy consumption.

The kitchen appliances are 'A' rated, with the exception of the fridge, which although old is still working. Rather than scrap it and buy a new one, we invested in a 'Savaplug', which regulates the motors on old fridges and reduces their energy consumption.
We watch television on a laptop computer with a LCD monitor, and a TV card, which uses very little electricity.

Even with 100% electric cooking, our electricity bill is very low, typically around £7 weekly.

Garden Structures

Although just a small terraced house back garden, ours is crammed with food plants, biodiversity and storage areas.
Our back garden is South-facing, and has been planted up according to Permaculture design principles.

A huge variety of perennial fruits and berry plants are crammed into a small area, with an additional raised bed for growing annual vegetables. A storage space for logs, a bunker for kindling, a small lean-to greenhouse and a table and benches for enjoying the sun are all crammed into this typical small terraced house back yard. Space has even been found for a network of four small wildlife ponds and wildlife areas amongst the food growing.

Information Sources

A number of web fora have been very useful, as well as standard agency sites like the EST.

Recommended Products

Sun Pipe.
We love the Sun-Pipe in our bathroom, which brightens up an otherwise dark room and casts bright daylight down our internal stair well.
A lens on the roof focuses sunlight and conveys it into the dark interior of the house via a reflective tube through the loft.

Top Tips

Automate your electrical sockets

Something which has cut our electricity consumption is the use of programmable electrical timers/remote control switches on all the sockets in the house.
We can program all the sockets to switch themselves off after we have gone to bed, cutting out everything which would otherwise be sitting on standby consuming electricity as 'vampire loads'.
The sockets are programmed to switch themselves back on at various points in the day depending on what is needed and when. All timers can be over-ridden via a remote control which works on radio frequencies, which means that all sockets in the house are easily controlled.
These remote control sockets are readily available from our local DIY supermarket.

© Climate Outreach Information Network, 2006-2007
Design - AHG