The True Cost of Being Green
So it's been a while since my last blog post and so much has changed. We moved in late May and have been incredibly busy with renovations work both in side and outside of the property. Wall paper has been stripped and painting has started. The outside of the building has been repainted and work started on landscaping. The garden is going to be a long term project but the bird feeders are up and we now are getting Woodpeckers and Red Squirrel as well as Siskin, Tits, and finches in great numbers.
So we have been working harder than we have ever done in our lives to try and get the self catering holiday accommodation finished and open for guests. But we have had plenty of challenges. We always wanted to look at ways in the long term to reduce our energy usage and especially the use of oil. We have realised now the cost of being green in £s is huge. Biomass boiler was the first option we looked at but the size of system required needed a massive hopper for pellets or chips and the cost was close to £40k. Ground source heat pumps were also looked at but again came with a similar price tag and we needed much more than the acre of land we have to lay the pipes. So our options began to narrow and we started to think less about generating but more about storage efficiency. We looked at examples of hybrid systems with multiple energy sources but established that thermal storage was vital for heating and water. Large thermal storage tanks are very efficient at keeping water hot for longer periods of time. The key factor for us was to have future proof system allowing connections to multiple input of heat sources.
So our initial work is as follows. Completely new radiators and pipe work as current system had microbore pipes which is inefficient and would not work well with hybrid inputs. Remove 3 hot water tanks and replace with large thermal storage. New ultra efficient tank and fully lagged pipe work. Tank will take input from 16 x solar PV panels to drive electric immersions. Also wood burning stove boiler will send hot water to tank. Oil boiler is to be serviced and engineer claims we can get 30% more efficient from same boiler. However we will reduce oil boiler usage by 70-80% by its integration with the solar and wood burner. Our electricity will come from our 4kw system backed up with supply from Ecotricity who are 100% renewables. We hope that the overall energy cost for the whole building will fall from 4-5k per year before we took over to £1.5k per year. A 70% reduction. We are looking at all aspects of the business and building to see where energy can be saved or insulation improved. New roof insulation will be added and new windows and doors updated for one side of the property. LED lights are being fitted as well as timed lighting in the entrance hall.
Work on heating system starts soon but whilst the engineers plan that work we continue on painting and decorating.
We still want to completely remove the oil boiler in the future and install an Air Source Heat Pump but are pleased with the system design we have. The cost of green technology is massive as incentives for installation whilst helpful will still mean a 15 year time frame to pay off the cost of these systems. Our investment in the hybrid system will still be close to £20k and another £20k will be needed for ASHP in the future. It's been fascinating to learn much more about all these systems and talk with various engineers about how to install them. The cost of going Green has shocked us. Simple steps make a big difference for energy efficiency and of course we tackle these first but green energy systems costing £30k+ are likely to be beyond the reach of most consumers or businesses. My biggest learning has been to ensure what work we do now can integrate seamlessly with future systems.