To explain the processes we went through when choosing and installing the technologies and our experiences with them afterwards.
We hope that this will be useful to you.
We offer advice and information on renewable technologies through this website on a voluntary basis and all of our employees work on a voluntary basis.
wind turbine to the right -> was installed in January 2009 it is performing less well than anticipated, but still produces a lot more electricity than we need. About 5000kW a year. On current performance and with grants it should pay for itself in about 15 years. New turbines are eligible for the 'Feed in Tarriff'. We get this but at a lower rate (16p/kWh) than new installers. This will be index linked for us but the rate offered to new people will reduce over the years. It also produces about a radiator worth of heat when working due to heat produced by the transformers. We use this to dry our clothes on a pulley system rack.
We also have hot water solar panels - pictured in the logo.
Our solar electric (photovoltaic) panels have just been installed.
We have had cavity wall insulation installed and have installed a large quantity of additional loft insulation plus sheepswool under the floor. This has had a noticeable effect on the heat retention of the building.
We replaced our open fire with a log burning stove. This is much more efficient and heats quite a large area very quickly.
We have two heat recovery fans at opposite ends of the house in the rooms with most moisture i.e. shower room and utility/ drying room.
We also have an electric bike.
In April 2013 we installed a 12kW Ground Source Heat Pump which should provide all our heating except for the rooms heated by the log stove and top up our hot water if the solar thermal are not producing enough. Heat pumps work a bit like a fridge in reverse. Ours concentrates heat from two 150 bore holes in our parking area.
Why do it?
We are confident that the technologies used will pay back over the years, but our main concern is to reduce our carbon footprint to a minimum because of the twin threats of climate change and peak oil, which may happen within the next 10 years. We have an enormous moral responsibility to avert the worst disaster the world has ever known and potentially runaway unstoppable global warming.
We also try not to fly. We cycle and use public transport as much as possible. We had a great family holiday cycling round Orkney last year and this year did a lot of sailing. We even managed to fit our shopping in the dinghy!
We try to buy as locally as possible and grow about half our fruit and vegetables. We compost and use a mulcher for woody things too small for logs. We also try to recycle as much as possible and use recycled products as rubbish going to landfill produces methane which is a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. Paper currently uses 40% wood from virgin forest, which also contributes to CO2.
Technology is becoming more efficient all the time and its now possible to see a future for Scotland using 100% renewable sources of electricity and heat. The more people start to do this and the faster they do it the better our hope for a brighter future.