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peteinwilts 

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Gave a talk about renewable energy to a local small farm training group a couple of weeks ago - my only "aid" was an old-fashioned white board upon which I drew crude diagrams of wind turbines, and parts of a solar hot water system, apart from that relied on humour and waving my arms around a lot, and rather a lot of heaven-gazing whenever the subject of councils/government came up
I robbed this from the other thread that took my eye.

I may be being 'involved' in building a new house (awaiting planning!) and like the idea renewable energy's and getting it plumbed in from the start. I have been doing quite a bit of research and am struggling to find a cost effective way of making it work....

Wind I have read makes the biggest loss, where the installation does not equal the savings over the lifespan.

Solar would take 30 years just to recoup the installation. (I understand there is a worldwide shortage of silicon cutters which is why solar is so expensive)

The best for me may be groundsource, as the majority of the work can be done myself, but need to read more...

The only way I can see anything remotely cost effective is to do the work myself.

The will is there, I just don't want to make a loss and the facts and figures I have seen are just plain dumb!
If you or anyone knows better, I would be very interested to know how!

Electricity usage is high!! Damn marine fishtank burns over 700W an hour! (would like to upgrade if the wife lets me! :hat:)
 

Brosville 

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ho hum, it'd be a heck of a lot quicker if you came to the next talk, but here goes (in VERY abbreviated form)
As I said at the top of the page, ALWAYS "start backwards" by minimising consumption (particularly electricity) - dump the fish tank, or go for cold water fish!:svengo:
Think the unthinkable - send teenagers to live with granny, ban hairdryers, ditch your fridge/freezer, go for a proper larder, and a tiny fridge..... (etc)
Then - wind in the right place WILL pay back, and fast - it does NOT work in urban areas due to turbulence (you need 100' plus towers to get above it- planning consent is a "no go")- worth a look in a rural area, but don't hold your breath!
I can never make the sums work for heat pumps, unless you're generating your own leccy - they go on about "free" energy, but neglect to mention the energy you have to shovel in is the most expensive - always do the sums VERY carefully! (if you're on mains gas, it makes no sense at all - 4 units gas circa 12p, 1 unit electricity 12-14p (plus 3 "free" units)...........AND you have the bally thing clanking away, and the output is "lowgrade" energy (low temperature) which only works well with underfloor heating (needs probably to be "new build").GSHP work well all year, air-source get horribly inefficient at temperatures below 45 deg F (when you most need them!)
I'm warming to solar pv (electricity) panels, they're fit and forget, will power your home for 50 years,but are, as you say, blessed pricey (it can make a lot of sense if you really drop consumption to a very low level, such as can be achieved in a Passiv Haus
If you have a LOT of running water, hydro is the bees knees (relatively cheap to set up, power 24/7)
Then there's solar hot water - "best bang for your buck" - if you're doing it yourself, can be done for a little over a grand, and will pay back really fast - if properly sized will give all your domestic hot water April-October - "tubed" systems outperform flat panels by a significant margin early and late in the season....
Wood is a good fuel - if you're agile enough to feed them, wood powered kitchen ranges, sitting room woodburners with backboilers are brilliant - relatively cheap, low tech devices - allied to solar hot water, should provide all your heating and hot water needs...... Wood chip worth a look, be careful with "pellets", they tend to be pricey...........
Hope that helps a bit - be VERY careful, there's lots of snake-oil salesmen about, particularly in the solar hot water and heat pump fields..........
Ideally try to put together an "integrated plan" so that even if you "stage" the work, everything you do will "fit" (say you put in a woodburner this year heating a thermal store and plan to put in solar hot water next year, spend £50 extra to have the solar coil in the tank ready..........)
 
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Brosville 

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ps, it's all about "perspective" - the average UK home uses circa 10kw/h per day - your fish tank is using more than many households - 16.8 kw/h per day - at an annual cost of circa £850 (I had to do the sums twice in disbelief, but that is accurate..........):svengo:
Be ruthless with fish tanks, fridges, freezers, sky boxes and "wall warts" of all sorts........
 

roche 

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I'm with you on heat pumps Brosville - They are one of the most over-rated "green" products. They only come into their own if the sole source of heating available is electricity.
 

peteinwilts 

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our electric bill is a little on the high side! :svengo: the wife is always complaining. Although we buy 'A' rated everything, we waste quite a lot of electricity. There is normally at least one computer on in the house and the wife normally has the lights on except in bright sunlight.

the new site, if planning permission is approved, would also have a fish tank probably bigger (they are pets and they are growing!.. I don't buy pets to give them away!), but I had an idea that I could have a through the wall fish tank with the back end in a heated conservatory\greenhouse. This could provide natural sunlight rather than very expensive to run Metal Halides which could save a small fortune in electric.

we have no gas and there are no plans of installing in the area. not sure if LPG is worth it because the prices will only go up. wood is a possibility, but as you say an integrated solution will probably be best

The site is on a south facing slope with a lot of open countryside. Even when there is a gentle breeze at home, it is often very windy at the site...

of course this is all speculation. Planning permission is a longshot regardless...
 

Brosville 

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I get really cross with some of the salesmen, they tell a load of old porkies, and, as you say, tout them as being "green", witter on about the "free" energy, and gloss over all the downsides......
When it comes to their greenness, there are circumstances where they can be sold as being the only viable choice, I'd suggest doing the sums on "old fashioned" night storage heaters on an economy tariff - which can be surprisingly economical!) - but that is "do they make sense financially?"
That actually has little to do with greenness - say you rip up all your garden for the piping, install the underfloor heating to make the best of it, and install your superannuated fridge (which WILL clank!), pay the enormous bill, and then start using electricity - only a very tiny proportion of UK energy is renewably generated, so you'll be using electricity generated from fossil fuels, which if you take into account the inefficiencies of the generation technology, and our "lossy and far from super-grid" only around 18% of the energy in the fuel will be arriving in the form of electricity, so you'll effectively be using 5-6 TIMES the fossil fuel, all to get a 3 times "advantage" of the heat pump...........:svengo:
 

roche 

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Exactly. In terms of space heating, superinsulation is a more worthwhile exercise.
 

peteinwilts 

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salespeople (and marketing) are difficult to trust at the best of times. In my line of work there are sales people and there are technical people. Sales try and make the most and the technical guys want to find a solution that works.... we often have 'debates' on the subject!

I have found doing research on the subject is difficult. Most sites try and sell you something, others that do not are out of date.

I have never liked the idea of lpg... groundsource looks interesting, but need to read more about it.

can you recommend any websites??
 

Brosville 

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it really is worthwhile getting hold of one of those "energy monitoring" socket things (I've seen them for as little as £6 in Lidl/Aldi), and go round the house checking out what appliances are actually using (have your smelling salts handy!)
As for the fish tank, if you're going to keep the same fish, why not look at designing something like a triple-glazed tank, and use some of the modern low-consumption fluorescent bulbs? (you could build something really rather good with £800..........) every year thereafter you'd be quids in!
The beauty of a new build is that you have a "clean sheet of paper" - I really would suggest reading up on the concept of a"Passiv Haus" - using existing technology, you can build a house that requires NO heating at all (except for hot water), and the premium over a conventional build is not that bad....
Again, you can "design out" such energy guzzling monstrosities as halogen spotlights, an should you decide it would be best for you, you can incorporate underfloor heating (not an easy or cheap "retro fit")
"What would I do?" is always a good way to look at it.......
I'd go for a "near passiv haus" standard, probably using strawbale, double or triple-glazing - woodburning range with backboiler, solar hot water, small pv array, possible wind turbine (owing to minimised electricity consumption a small battery bank then makes sense) - proper cool larder, tiny fridge/freezer, running off bottled gas (as would the "summer cooker")
My reasoning being that it is relatively "low tech", and there is a high degree of "energy independence" with no reliance on what may become an unreliable grid - it's all stuff I could "have a hack at" fitting or repairing....
 

roche 

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Maybe a book - "The energy efficient home" by Patrick Waterfield - With a new build you have a lot of design options available to reduce your heating requirement before you start...
 

Brosville 

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roche 

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Brossville, Have you ever looked at using solar thermal and a seriously large thermal store, maybe 10000 litres, for space heating?
 

peteinwilts 

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it really is worthwhile getting hold of one of those "energy monitoring" socket things (I've seen them for as little as £6 in Lidl/Aldi), and go round the house checking out what appliances are actually using (have your smelling salts handy!)
As for the fish tank, if you're going to keep the same fish, why not look at designing something like a triple-glazed tank, and use some of the modern low-consumption fluorescent bulbs? (you could build something really rather good with £800..........) every year thereafter you'd be quids in!
...
Not that simple. It is not the heat of the tank that costs money. I actually run a 500W chiller which is on for a few hours a day to try and keep it cool.

It is the corals that need the light which generates the heat. T5 flouresants are not intense enough and the gen 1 LED's are not up to scratch yet. I was thinking about harnessing sunlight to do most of the work and top up with LED's for the evening... need to research what glass to use that allows the correct type of wavelength through!

i have a box that measures how much devices use... once added together it is quite shocking.
 

MuswellMetro 

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modern oil combi condesation boiler and new rads/pipe to replace mt 1965 system...( £ouch) cut my oil bill by half

so thought i would go further and put in a wood burner ....too hot, it turns off the central heating..should have install it first and could have saved money with a smaller condesation boiler...though the mains fed combi shower is a revelation compared to the old hot water tank low pressure shower....designed it to take two :blush5:

the combi does however mean that solar water heating is not possible ( i had an old non pump DIY system)

though thought of using it to feed the diswasher...single cold inlet only
 

Brosville 

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some people are experimenting with it, but unfortunately it means simply colossal stores to make any sense of it - sod's law being what it is, you get the most thermal energy when you least need it (summer), and vice versa - space-heating guzzles energy.........
 

Brosville 

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Solar hot water IS possible with a combi, there are 2 or 3 ways to achieve it, but you're right - you'd be better off with a "tank" of some sort
 

MuswellMetro 

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BioDiesel

Does anyone make their own bio diesel

non refined rape seed oil in my 1996 VW golf ,ith about a 75/25 mix in summer and 40/60 in winter

i have the fuel line wrapped around the heater feed to get a better ijector spray

but rapeseed is going up again in price..70p high eruric acid contents non edible stuff and 90=95 for refined edible rapeseeed Canola oil

thought of getting waste oil to make bio..but it seems a lot of work
 

Chris B 

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As for the fish tank, if you're going to keep the same fish, why not look at designing something like a triple-glazed tank....
The FishHaus is born.

Didn't Richard Briers use manure in The Good Life? Was that pure fantasy or can it be done? Farmers make manure mountains in fields and they seem to give off heat for ages. It seems such a waste.
 

Hivemaker. 

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Yes i make and use bio diesel,from waste oil only.

Takes about ten minutes of your time,to produce 80 litres at a time ,thats the size of the tank.
 
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Brosville 

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There was a really cracking TV series 20 or more years ago about Victorian Gardening, including relating how the old gardeners would produce the most amazing array of out-of-season exotica using "hot beds" in their greenhouses and coldframes - essentially a heap of horse manure covered in soil.........:)
As for biodiesel, that's something I omitted on my quick flit through renewables - combined heat and power! - a friend of mine has shown that you can (in a suburban Surrey house) run a Lister diesel on waste vegetable oil, giving both electricity, AND house heating from the cooling circuit........in a well-insulated shed, its acceptable even in suburbia (a Lister don't 'arf thump!) - the problem is that waste vegetable oil is now pretty pricey as all the commercial companies are after it to reprocess into biodiesel...... some get round it by running on "lard" - the solid cooking oils, but even that is now getting short- so my pioneer friend is now tinkering with woodgas to run the Lister.........:)
Fisch Haus? - well, you've got the pretentious name, all you need to do is make them by the million out of garish plastic, charge a price that would make an investment banker blanch, and you could retire early.......(include a course for the owner's au pair/nanny)........
 

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