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

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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

Wrapping your home in a warm duvet

External insulation go onHere’s my largely inaccurate history of house building.

After all that wattle and daub stuff, someone invented the brick wall. In the 1930s someone else invented the cavity wall, which trapped an insulating layer of air, but was still cold in winter. More recently someone realised injecting the air cavity with an insulating foam was even better.

In the last few years, about 30 year after the rest of Europe, the UK Government finally adopted building regulations to require proper home insulation in the first place! 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