The homeowner care deeply about the environment and strive to live an eco friendly lifestyle
The home owning couple have a traditional Edwardian cottage in Aberfeldy, Scotland. They are enthusiastic about leading an eco-friendly lifestyle.
They came across the HEAT Project at the Aberfeldy Climate Cafe and asked for energy advice on how to reduce their carbon footprint – and their energy bills. Today, we’re taking a closer look at the eco-friendly considerations in an environmentally low-impact home.
Martin, our energy advisor, visited their house and tried to help them with their ambitions. The starting point was their house construction – it’s a typical stone-built cottage with room in roof bedrooms upstairs – classed as “hard to treat” due to difficulties ion improving insulation levels. Houses like this are slow to warm because the stone absorbs heat, up and expensive to keep warm due to rapid energy lost.
Unusually although stone built, there is a double cavity on the walls, which have already been insulated.
Increasing the insulating of the stone walls could be done either outside (expensive, changes the look of the property and may need planning our building consent) or inside, which can be messy and reduce room size.
This house did have traditional lathe and plaster internal walls, leaving a small gap between the internal and external walls.Rather than suggest ripping out the lathe and plaster and installing plasterboard over insulation, we recommended consulting a specialist team who could inject isocyanine foam insulation into the existing gap.
This is expensive but very quick, with minimal disruption and has the added advantages of stopping drafts and allowing the stone walls to “breathe”.
Phase two was to add internal insulation to the sloping ceilings upstairs and top up the loft insulation.
The home owners have also put insulation under the kitchen and downstairs bathroom floors and want to do under the big downstairs rooms but there’s not enough room for a person to crawl under. The only option would be to strip out the floor and rebuild.
Have installed proper house insulation, the use of renewable energy to heat the house made much more sense. Additionally, due to their commitment to the environment, the homeowners wanted to use renewables to generate electricity.
Their house is in open countryside with a south facing roof so installing solar panels on their roof was an option. Even though there is less ability to produce electricity with our limited sunlight in Scotland, photovoltaics (generating electricity from light) can still be a viable option.
The homeowners took our advice to install an air source heat pump. Acting like “a fridge in reverse”, an air source heat pump absorbs and concentrates heat from the outside air to heat your home and hot water. The air source heat pump does use electricity but has the advantage of providing between three and four useful units of heat for every unit of electricity consumed. This means lower fuel bills, especially if you are replacing conventional electric heating.
After our advice, and the commitment shown by the homeowners, they now have a beautiful stone cottage but with high levels of house insulation and energy efficient heating.
The homeowners have embraced an eco-friendly lifestyle. They love outdoor activities and provide professional canoe coaching. They practice eco-friendly living in their day to day life, collecting shower water into barrels then reusing this “waste” water for their lovely vegetable garden and fruit trees.
Written by Shannon Chang & Martin Mathers