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Velma's Dad

Velma's Dad

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VIP Member
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2,852
Location
Buckinghamshire
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T5 SE 180
Just read the "top five things we've learned" on the California house. Interesting to see an honest appraisal of pros/cons.

We've lucky enough to be able to do major 'retrofits' of our last two houses - the current one was practically gutted. Here's a few things we've learnt.

1. Location and orientation are major factors. Obviously you can't govern that for an existing house but make the most of the available solar gain as far as you can. We put a 'glass box' room on the south side of the house. The generous roof overhang stops it getting too hot in summer but on a sunny winter's day like today the low sun heats the dark coloured wood floor blocks and slab.

2. You can't go too far with insulation. For our current house we went the whole hog and applied the 'duvet principle' of 100mm of external wall insulation. It meant raising the roof level to maintain the eaves depths but that then allowed more roof insulation too. Result: house stays and feels warm. Downside in our case: after careful analysis (looked at sheep's wool, the lot) I chose Kingspan external wall insulation... like Grenfell. Fully expecting it will create major issues when we come to sell - thankfully no plans to move.

3. Underfloor heating. Great in some ways but not ideal for everyone. Works for us as house is occupied most of the day. But takes a LONG time to heat up/cool down. So only consider if you combine with excellent insulation of the building envelope. Also, not an ideal combo with wood-burners, unless you run the stoves constantly for background heat.

4. Solar. We went for wet solar in the last house, 15 years ago it made sense. However I've no idea how the economics worked out as no way to measure effect on domestic HW usage (no before/after data). In current house I have left options to install PV although not done so yet.

5. Heating system. Twice have looked at ground source heat pumps and chickened out. But I wish now I had put in the internal pipework in readiness for the externals as and when.

6. Controls. Last house I set up eight different control zones (it was a big house, admittedly) and have seven where we are now, which is too many. In practice once novelty has worn off it's not worthwhile. Also when one of the smart stats plays up there's no easy way to over-ride it. Better to keep it simple and spend the money on... even more insulation!
 
clarinetbcn

clarinetbcn

T5.1 Beach 140
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1,286
Location
Barcelona, Spain
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T5 Beach
@Velma's Dad I think unfortunately that is still true, but the fact that a consumer-run electric company like SomEnergia, which only produces with renewables, exists in Barcelona, is profitable and is growing shows that I'm not alone. My flat, built in 1890 and historically protected, has produced all it's own electricity, including heating and aircon, since 2019, when the Spanish PP's infamous "Tax on the Sun" was repealed. Total cost of the system, with discounts from buying as a collective of 100 households, city of Barcelona subsidy of 60%, and compensation for excess generated during the day applied to energy used at night, 2700 euros. You're right, it's a political and regulatory decision.
 
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Wildcamper

Wildcamper

Messages
360
Location
UK
Vehicle
T5 HighTop

Still believe overpopulation is the elephant in the room that all Governments are too afraid to discuss - no it won't be easy! Papering over the cracks is fine if it buys time while the underlying problem is fixed. Papering over the cracks and not fixing the cause (been like this for the 30 years I have been involved in environmental issues) will achieve very little.
 
BrugseB

BrugseB

Messages
134
Location
Belgium
Vehicle
T4 Hightop
Well, for "spoiled" W-European citizens the unconvenient truth may be that not overpopulation but overconsumption is the obvious elephant in my opinion. Not an easy issue to discuss though, when you're living in the right place on Earth... I myself am also quiet keen on my large car, my beatiful house, and yes, my beautiful wife (cfr Talking Heads :cool: )
 
GrumpyGranddad

GrumpyGranddad

Lifetime VIP Member
Messages
1,685
Location
Wendover
Vehicle
T6.1 Ocean 199
Well, for "spoiled" W-European citizens the unconvenient truth may be that not overpopulation but overconsumption is the obvious elephant in my opinion. Not an easy issue to discuss though, when you're living in the right place on Earth... I myself am also quiet keen on my large car, my beatiful house, and yes, my beautiful wife (cfr Talking Heads :cool: )
:) a bit of a tangent. I never got to see Talking Heads live but have seen David Byrne 5 times. The American Utopia show in Oxford a couple of years ago was truly amazing.
 

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