Saturday, October 18, 2014

Off Grid - Almost

Since we acquired our little cottage in the Borders we have been doing small improvements and upgrades while we wait forever for the Borders Council to approve a very minor extension to our house. We applied in July and still not got the final paperwork and warrants.

Meanwhile we had to alter our use of energy. We were paying £150 a month electricity and £2500 a year for oil for the Stanley range cooker. Plus £300 on coal from our open fire. In total £4600 a year energy costs.

Our solution is in two areas. We installed solar pv and a biomass boiler using pellets and changed the open fire into an Aga insert wood burning stove.

So far our experience is that the wood burning stove which converts about 80+% of fuel into heat versus our open fire of 20% is magically good. I light it on cool evenings and it uses about 4 logs all night and warms not just our lounge but also all the corridor. Now with coal we used to feel very little heat at all, it as all about the cosy flame.

The PV is early days but from my calculations we have gone from paying £150 a month to earning £60 a month and free electricity. Of course we have had good weather this autumn so we will see over a year. So far though this looks like a real winner. We have a computer device that turns excess energy into water heating through the immersion.

The biomass is new so all I can report is that it warms the house through and heats the water so it works!. Pellets are £250 a ton which is 100 bags. We are using 1 bag a day but in the winter this may get to be a lot more its hard to be sure yet. But in the summer the PV heats all our water, so we should hardly use the biomass. Even if we use 3 tons thats £750 versus £2500. Plus the government wants you to convert to eco friendly renewable heat so they load the deck by paying you for the install over 7 years. Cannot be bad.

So I am hoping that by next year we will look back on turning £4600 costs into about £1500, saving over £3000pa.