Couple hopes to beat utilities at their own game

AYLESBURY, ENGLAND - As oil prices soar to record levels a couple from The Vale has installed a range of equipment to make their house eco-friendly.

Peter and Anne Watts from Charndon have installed an air source heat pump, solar PV panels and special double glazing to help make their home environmentally friendly, hoping to reduce their utility bills.

Mr Watts said: "The whole village is oil. Nobody is getting gas, some might be on electricity only. I was paying £95 a month standing order and about four months previously the company dropped me a line to put it up. I think if I hadn't done what I have done it would have gone up again."

Mrs Watts said: "The first thing we did was improve our insulation. The Government has set up this thing for people over 70 to get free insulation for walls.

"Peter is over 70 so we could got it free.

"Really, we wanted to build our own house, but because we are retired by the time we started making inquiries they would not lend us any money. This was the next best thing."

Next on the list was replacing all the double-glazed windows with more efficient double glazing.

Mrs Watts said: "When the house was built, the windows had a narrow gap between the panes. This is so much wider and also with Pilkington-K glass which has insulation value and we have also had the gap filled with argon gas which is more efficient than a vacuum."

After that they read a newspaper article about air source heat pumps (ASHP), which work by absorbing heat from air outside the house and compressing it to heat water or air to about five times the outside temperature.

Mr Watts said: "For every kilowatt of electricity that (the ASHP) takes to run it is pushing out four kilowatts. They have got these in Norway, Sweden and Canada working down to -20 degrees."

They also have solar PV panels on their roof producing electricity.

Since they were installed on June 13 they have made 219kW of electricity - enough electricity to power an average two-storey house for four days.

Mr Watts said: "Since April 6 you have not needed planning permission to put them up unless you are in a conservation area or it's a listed building.

"We had a maximum grant from the government of £2,500 for the PV panels. To get that you have to satisfy the energy commission that you are doing everything you can to reduce energy."

The Watts also have a compost bin, use low-energy light bulbs and even have a machine which makes logs out of newspapers. When they are put onto a fire they take two hours to burn.

They said after peak sunlight hours they have seen their electricity meter dial going backwards meaning they are producing more electricity than is needed for their house.

Their next step is to get linked up to the National Grid so they can feed back this energy for others to use, the cost of which is then credited to them.


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