Rain, rain, rain

March 21, 2008

It might not be great weather for the bank holiday but there’s a silver lining from where I sit.  It’s filling up the rain water harvesting tank. Now it’s all up and running and working as it should we are happily flushing the toilets with rainwater.   In the event of a drought (you never know) or power cut the tank reverts to being fed by the mains water.The tank, pump and controls were supplied by Envireau (http://www.envireau.co.uk/).   


Building Design Article

March 21, 2008

Here’s a link to a recent article about the house by Tony McIntyre for Building Design magazine.Enjoy. http://www.bdonline.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=428&storycode=3106739 

Ecobuild 2008

February 29, 2008

Yesterday I braved the eco warrior hoards and went down to Ecobuild at Earls Court (www.ecobuild.co.uk).  Blimey what a scrum.  Clearly there’s something in the water as it seems everyone is either creating something to sell as Eco or else busily looking around for the next, new Low Carbon widget.  I particularly loved the air conditioning manufacturers being there. Next year you’ll be able to win a hybrid 4×4 I expect.  I guess it’s encouraging that so many companies feel that there’s money in being green but it did seem a bit desperate.  There was still a crazy amount of paper being given away that even the recycling bins at the side would never cope with.  I would like to know the full Carbon Footprint of Ecobuild, including making and bringing in all the stands, food, visitors etc. Has anyone out there calculated it?  Somehow I doubt it. Anyway what impressed?1. The Sustainable Building Association (AECB), (http://www.aecb.net/) launched their CarbonLite Programme – ‘a crash course in low energy buildings for the design and construction industry’, which usefully draws on experience in Europe and North America, as well as the UK, to provide a scheme that concentrates on simple design principles to achieve genuinely low energy buildings: http://www.carbonlite.org.uk2.  On a more domestic level the shower tray heat exchanger that provides heat recovery from the waste heat of a shower to prewarm water from the incoming main and reduce, it claims, by 50-70% the energy used by showering.  Apparently installed in 20% of all dutch housing and not yet available directly within the UK it is a simple yet effective way of reducing energy use. How much?  About £300 it was claimed, that pays itself back in 3-5 years depending, I guess, on the cleanliness or otherwise of the users.  They are looking for a UK distributor so if you know of anyone please get in touch (http://www.hei-tech.nl/)

We’re in!

January 15, 2008

A bit of a gap since my last update but things have been rather absurdly busy. We’ve moved in with a few weeks to spare before baby number two arrived. He and mum are doing well if not getting much sleep.Here are some photos of it now complete.  I’ll continue to update with how it is to live in along with details of the heat pump and rainwater harvesting in action – there are already a few teething problems (with the house systems – not the baby).                                            Rear living roomStreet ElevationDining room0519luke102.jpg

Monmouth hits the press

April 28, 2007

On thursday this week there was a piece on the house in the Independent newspaper, focussing on the ground coupled heating system.
In case you missed it here’s a link to the online edition.

What water shortage? How to harvest rainwater.

June 11, 2006

We’ve been looking into rainwater harvesting. With all this talk of water shortages and hose pipe bans and Thames Water’s recent request for drought status it seems more and more necessary. What is it? Storing rainwater from the roofs and using it to flush the toilets and potentially to do the washing too.
How big a tank?
How much water do you use?
Roughly daily use:
12 WC flushes per person @ 6ltrs per flush = 72ltrs,
plus, depending on how often you do your washing 1 washing cycle = 60ltrs
Calculating how much rain you can get each year obviously depends on the size of the roof. We’ve discovered that our neighbour’s roof drains onto ours so we have the benefit of that too. The tank we are looking at is approx 1.25m diameter by 1.5m high/long = 1500ltrs. That would serve a 4 person house.
Where to store it?
Either you store it high up the building and use gravity to feed toilets below or you put the tank lower down (in the ground) and pump it up to a header tank. Obviously pumping the water up to a tank takes energy and costs more but because of height restrictions and a 3rd floor bathroom, that’s what we’ve had to do. This will use approx 30 kw hours per year of electricity.
How much does it cost?
I’m still waiting for my quote. I’ll post it when I get it.
Here are some useful links:

rainwater harvesting

Low Carbon Buildings

May 26, 2006

If you are looking to make some sense of energy your house uses and what grants are available for the various technologies a good place to start is The Energy Saving Trust. The UK government has a Low Carbon Buildings programme for grant funding details are available at