11 Fordington Avenue is a semi-detached house built in the 1930s. We moved in almost 6 years ago at about the same time as when I really wanted to reduce our carbon footprint and save us money. From this time I have kept figures for my Electricity and Gas consumption.
When we moved in, there were no curtains left in the house, so our priority was to fix curtains and blinds to most of the windows. A simple idea that made an immediate difference in the winter where before on cold nights you could feel a significant temperature difference when you walked past the bare window. It really helps reduce heat loss even now by shutting the curtains at dusk.
Two years later we replaced the windows because these were thin double glazed which had been compromised and were providing very little insulation. We chose wooden double glazed windows made by rational which have an aluminium facade to give greater protection from the weather. We are very pleased with them but it wasn’t easy to organise. The onus was on me to measure and order the windows correctly and arrange installation. Very stressful at the time.
The main problem we have left is how to effectively insulate the conservatory windows. My current idea is to try placing solid insulation between the roof joists and hiding them all by fixing a canvass lining.
The house is made with cavity walls which had already been insulated. It has a loft conversion which meant there was no room to add more insulation above but more has been added around it where possible.
We have always had cold draughts through the downstairs floor boards which I have always known I need to insulate somehow. We had some recent work done to the floors where we levelled them between rooms and had a wall taken down. These left big holes which needed patching so at the same time as fixing them we decided to address the insulation problem. We had 2 choices. 1) Lifting all the floorboards, placing insulation between the joists and then replacing the boards. For us this would also have meant removing a small area of screed (more pointless work) and matching new boards with old boards so we went for option 2) Patch the holes, place a moisture barrier over it and lay new boards, from Winchester Hardwood Flooring, over the top. Effectively this uses the original boards as an insulation barrier. We are now draughtless.
The living room we use mostly in the evening is north facing and very cold in the winter. It was heated by a small radiator and a gas fire in the closed up chimney place. The thermostat is in the hallway and we found we had to heat the whole house up just to get the living room up to a reasonable temperature. So in 2006 we took out the gas fire and installed a Charnwood Cove 1 4kW wood-burner and at the same time fitted thermostatic radiator valves to all the rooms. It allowed us to manage the way we heated the house to a greater extent by turning the thermostat down and regulating each room. In the evening we now get snug in the living room with the wood-burner going. It is the biggest reason for the reduction in our gas consumption. We added a second Charnwood Cove 2 8kW wood-burner when we were having some work done to the kitchen/living area last year. Charnwood are based in the Isle of Wight.
Another change made during the recent work we had done, was replacing the gas combi boiler to a more efficient condensing gas boiler and added a hot water tank which was solar ready, ie it has a secondary coil within the tank which can be connected to solar thermal panels. This will happen in the near future so on sunny days we will be able to heat our water from the sun, reducing our reliance on Gas.
Most of our lights have now been changed to compact fluorescent but we hadn’t found adequate replacements for GU10s or MR16s. Recently I have been investigating LEDs, the technology of which is leaping forward at a staggering rate. LSLCo is a company based in Colden Common which imports LED lighting and they supplied me with some fantastic downlighters for the kitchen and living area that are 5w instead of the equivalent 50w spotlight. More recently they have supplied me with LED replacements for GU10 and MR16 bulbs. Now they provide similar light to a 50w halogen bulb. I have examples of three types of LED lights in cool and warm white and are very pleased with them.
We have two water butts fed by rain water. I also have a simple grey water system. I have installed a WaterTwo Water Recycling System which diverts waste bath water directly into one of the water butts. It has prooven useful through our dry Spring and Summer
Then attached to the water butt I have connected a watering system which I use to keep my tomatoes moist when I’m away.
We have a duel compost heap to take most of the garden and kitchen vegetable waste.
Supermarket packaging accounts for a large volume of what usually goes into the bin so to reduce our waste we had to source our food from other suppliers. We have a vegetable box delivered every week from Riverford (an alternative veg box scheme is run by Sunnyfields) and milk from the milkmen. The boxes and bottles are returned so little waste ends up in the bin. We also have a breadmaker and visit the farmers market regularly to keep the visits to the supermarket to a minimum.
Another way to reduce your waste is give unwanted items away on Freecycle (something I am very passionate about). We all have times when we want to get rid of perfectly good items and sometimes it is easier to throw them away. Freecycle matches up these people with others that want the items. Again a simple idea but very effective. Through Freecycle we have acquired a 1930’s wardrobe, a high bed, a bookcase, table tennis table, some smaller odds and ends and we have also given lots of stuff away. Freecycle is community based and slows down consumerism.
During the first year we lived here we used 1001ft3 of Gas and 4298KWh of Electricity. Now since we have applied all these changes to the house we have managed to reduce our Gas consumption by over 60% and our Electricity consumption by more than 40%.
In the year ending July 2009 we used 365ft3 and 3112KWh. My goal is to disconnect the Gas supply altogether but I think this is some way off!
Ended Gas Elec Notes
2005 1001 4298
2006 880 4045 Lined, Curtains, TRVs
2007 599 3612 1st Log Burner installed
2008 490 3135 Double Glazing
2009 365 3112 2nd Log Burner installed
2010 383 2523 Floor insulation, LED lighting