ECO Energy improvements at Windsong, Worth Matravers
We bought our 1980s house three years ago with 16 solar panels already installed. Since then, we
have been in the process of replacing the early generation windows with current specification types.
The attic insulation was already substantial as the roof space had been re-modelled for bedrooms
only a few years ago.
There were two existing wood burning stoves, one of which was worn out so we removed it and
blanked the chimney. The other has not been used by us, mainly because of the health and
environmental concerns surrounding wood burning and the cost of logs.
A five-year old high efficiency oil fired boiler is installed which was the sole heating when we arrived
but with the high cost of electricity and the additional power from the panels, we decided to fit an
air to air heat pump at the cost of £1800 inclusive, basically a bi-directional air-conditioning unit of
6.5Kw capacity. These are very efficient and give almost a x3 multiplication of input power meaning
we heat the living space, kitchen, lounge, bathroom and upstairs bedroom in the winter on 500w of
power. The unit can be controlled remotely from a smartphone and provide a reading of the
temperature inside and outside the house, very useful when we are away in winter.
This has made enormous savings on the oil boiler with current oil prices as we have the system
running all day in winter. We can also get the benefit of cooling and dehumidification on the hottest
days of Summer, but generally just open all the doors!
Our hot water immersion heater times its operation to maximum daytime solar output so the oil
boiler is not used at all March to October and only 6-9am in Winter to warm the hot water and the
farther corners of the house to prevent dampness in areas where the heat pump flow is minimal.
An electric car was purchased 18 months ago and with it a Zappi charge point. This allows us to run
the car at no cost from March to September using the solar panels. We have now covered 8500
miles which includes a couple of longer trips (Manchester, Herefordshire Wales - 680 miles at a cost
of £36 and 320 miles to Devon where the cost was minimal) and charged away only a handful of
times as the car has a 230 mile range which covers almost all our trips without recharge. There are a
number of charging modes including one that only charges when there is sufficient power coming
from the panels. The power information for the whole house can be controlled, stored and viewed
from a smartphone.
Myenergy Zappi has the capacity to measure the energy flow
for the whole household electrical system and also provide
information as to when to operate household appliances such
as washing machines to avoid drawing from the grid and also
provide statistics on household usage. It is possible to control
charge mode from the phone. It has additional devices to
control hot water immersion heating but we felt this was
unnecessary as a simple time clock met our needs
We had originally discounted the cost of a battery storage system as we receive FIT payments on
surplus energy but with the rising cost of electricity and the future possibility of power cuts in our
remote location, this is again up for consideration. A wind generator is also under consideration.
I use an electric bike for trips around the local area and find it very useful even in hilly Dorset!
A vegetable garden provides us with fresh organic produce and compost our vegetable waste and
collect rainwater to irrigate it. We have a washing line which is a very effective replacement for a
tumble drier. The conservatory is not heated in winter and is closed off but provides extra solar
heating from March to November.
Data on our energy usage is provided in a separate spreadsheet.