Show me the (renewable heat) money!

MCS CertIt seemed wrong, in the season of goodwill, to title this post ‘Fuck Off George Osbourne’. Although perhaps it would have been understandable given you can argue this is currently the worst period for UK environmental policy in 30 years. Certainly the Tories, unshackled from partnership coalition and driven by the Treasury, are not a pretty sight.

Their well documented proposal for an 89% reduction in the Solar PV ‘Feed In Tariff’ may well effect our own plans for a PV array next year. And today’s ‘climbdown’ in the face of a storm of criticism, to just a 64% cut, will do little to reduce the damage. Boris Johnson is right to be “very concerned” that up to 20,000 jobs could go in the next few months. But ultimately the economics of solar will defeat oil whatever the Tories do now. Just a shame those jobs will have gone to other countries by then, sacrificed on the alter of political ideology. Continue reading

Our new Energy Performance Certificate

EPCsIt was with some trepidation recently when Neil from the Severn Wye Energy Agency came round to assess The Secret Acre’s new Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This was after all the independent validation of our smallholding’s whole eco-makeover!

When we found The Secret Acre in 2013 its EPC stood at a lowly score of 44 (in band E). Continue reading

First Glimmers of the Good Life

Deer in garden - 241015Amid the stresses of moving in, unpacking and snagging it can be easy to temporarily lose sight of why you wanted to chase a more balanced life in the first place. So it has something of a relief to almost immediately get the first glimmers of the promised Good Life.

My top three so far have been – Continue reading

Five Months In: Inside Out

Radiators go inA mild panic is starting to set in. After getting watertight in July, August has seen the house suddenly starting to look like you could actually live in it again. So much so that in another few weeks we plan to move the rest of our stuff in. Have we even booked a van?!!

At least one thing has stayed the same, finishing as we started with our eco obsession with insulation. Our final lorry load of insulation in August was for the external solid wall insulation to be wrapped around the bungalow’s three remaining original white walls. Continue reading

Three Months In: Waiting for Windows

windows waitThere always seems to be that moment on Grand Designs when everything stops for several months while they wait for the windows to be delivered.

Determined not to have that problem we ordered our windows some time ago, and yet after the amazing speed of progress in the first eight weeks, June still felt like we were waiting. Continue reading

Our Eco Makeover

Work underwayLike most eco-warriors I had the standard comprehensive list in my heart of eco-bling I wanted at The Secret Acre – PV, solar thermal, rainwater harvesting, green roof, etc.

But having worked at Forum for the Future on pathfinder retrofit projects, I knew in my head that our first priority on a budget had to be insulation, insulation, insulation.

So making it warm and properly insulated for the next 100 years has to come first, and then worry about the bling. And as with every retrofit, you have to work with the existing building you have to do what is possible, practical and appropriate. Continue reading