Lewes Energy-saving Homes

Four square metres of Photovoltaic panels and 20 Evacuated Tube solar water panels

Eight houses are open this weekend in Lewes, and more in the vicinity, showing off their renewable energy installations and energy reduction alterations. I got to three of them, two being terraced houses like mine and the other a chalet bungalow with 2 cubic metres of rainwater storage, 30 evacuated tube solar water heaters and a giant 300 litre hot water tank. Enough you might think, but I heard that another 10 tubes, double the rainwater storage and a second hot water storage tank would make the system better. I was out of my league here.
The first terraced house was small, like all the houses it had a wood burning stove, but the draw for me was the solid wall insulation. Only about a centimetre thick it is a soft foam made more rigid by a bonded surface of glass fibre. Mark, who’s house it is, told of the difficulties of pasting it up, cutting it accurately and avoiding glass fibres in the skin, but he also said it makes the house more comfortable, and although expensive (£600 for a room about 12 feet by 16 feet) its a good solution where external insulation is not an option, and thicker internal insulation would take too much space.
A case of damning with faint praise me thinks. The product is called Sempatap Thermal.
The last house (pictured above) has lots of kit to generate heat and power, and a good amount of secondary glazing, draughtproofing and insulation to retain the heat for longer. The he of the house is a great gatherer of numbers, which pleased me. He had tabulated the changes to his fossil fuel use with each feature added:
Before adding solar hot water and a wood burning stove they used 13,250 kWh of gas a year, this fell to 5,250 kWh a year after. The huge array of photovoltaic panels only went up in November last year but seems to be producing well over half of the 1200 kWh of electricity they use annually.
With the renewable energy tariff they will receive over 40p for every kWh they generate, either for home use, or fed back into the grid.
Two weeks ago I met a man in Steyning who has just spent £13,000 on photovoltaic panels and reckons it will earn him a return of around 6 percent a year for the next 25 years. Sadly that option is also out of my league. I met him at a Steyning 10:10 event, and they have a website.
1010 groups are appearing all over, they are all trying to reduce their carbon footprints by 10 percent in 2010. The local one to Round Hill is part of Transition Brighto and Hove, and can be found here.

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