What do we plan for the future? Well, this place is so big and requires so much work that I can't see that we would ever actaully finish it, certainly not while we have to commit so much time to our career and business. But, when time allows we intend to try and turn this house into a more energy efficient modern home, while being realistic about how we want to live. Our first task is to get the house properly insulated to reduce our heating bills. When we moved in there was very little in the way of insulation in the roof, the loft space was completely un-insulated and the cavity walls were not filled. Hot water was provided by a small tank that had a faulty thermostat and was heated purely by the oil boiler or by electricity. Every hot water and heating pipe ran through the eaves in the back bedroom and had next to no insulation meaning that a huge amount of heat was being lost into the eaves. There were no electricity saving lights and in fact most lights were sets of 4 spotlights on dimmer switches, ie. 160+ watts per room.
So for the inside of the house our plan is to work from the top down, insulating the building properly and making the bedrooms nice and modern. We want to change the utilities infrastructure, putting in a new solar heated water tank and new shorter distance pipework. We want to remove the radiators and install underfloor heating throughout the house to prepare the property for lower temperature heating, possibly a ground source heat pump.
We also want to remove all the old electrics and replace them with new "clean" circuits connected to a new consumer unit and in line with current regulations. We would like to have the electricity pole in the front garden moved to the other side and bury the incoming cable. In doing this we would be able to ensure that every socket, switch and earth cable is correct for a new meter and possibly our own micro generation supply (wind turbine). Obviously all these things are very long term goals due to our other commitments.
Outside we would like to give the tired gardens a new lease of life, replacing the worn out patio and tidy up the borders and drive. We want to turn over much of the field to the planting of trees (both ornamental and fruit bearing) with paths and individual areas throughout. We would like to encourage a lot more wildlife, keeping areas of contained brambles and nettles as well as installing a large pond to encourage insects for bats and birds. A small vegetable plot is also an early plan with a compost area as well as keeping some chickens.
Although we want to reduce our energy consumption we do also want to enjoy modern facilities so we also have some plans for our own leisure. We fully believe that so much can be done by everybody to reduce their energy needs but we also believe that in the modern world people can not be expected to live like monks. We would love to convert the store room into a sauna and wet room and also install a hot tub. How we do this in the most energy efficient way has yet to be figured out. People still want their mod-cons but it is what is done to reduce the cost of these. Even in this big house with children and pets our current energy consumption is equivilent to an average 3 bedroom house according to the energy watch website. We are using about 460 kWh per month but although we hope to reduce our "regular" useage we will ultimately lose the oil boiler and have a heat pump so our electricity useage will go up considerably. To balance this we hope to install PV solar panels or a wind turbine.
On the whole this is all very ambitious considering we don't have a huge knowledge on these things, but with time we'll hopefully achieve some of this over the next 10 to 20 years. This is what we are planning next...