Follow the pioneers forging a green trail
V ICTORIAN properties are often large, sometimes draughty and notoriously expensive to heat. But West Bridgford husband and wife Penney Poyzer and Gil Schalom have transformed their Victorian property into a model eco home.
Penney, 52, said: "This has been a 14-year project, since we bought our house in 1998. We knew it would cost a fortune to heat a Victorian house and we were very keen to reduce our CO2 impact on the world, so we began kitting out our house and garden in an eco-friendly way."
Significant changes they made to their Patrick Road home were:
Harvesting rain flow off the roof to use for flushing the toilets.
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Externally and internally insulated the house.
Installing a wood-burning stove in the cellar to heat water and provide heating in winter.
Installing solar thermal panels to heat water in the summer.
They also changed their everyday behaviour and tried to be more aware of what appliances used the most energy – including those that are seemingly not in use.
Penney says: "We suggest people get one of those energy monitors. You can get them from Maplins or online. What they do is show you how much energy your house is using and how much Co2 is being emitted. They really help you to change your behaviour.
"You notice that as soon as you turn the kettle on that's 2 kWh gone and it helps identify what appliances have been left on and are still using energy."
Penney estimates she and Gil have saved more than £2,000 a year on heating bills. As it's pioneering, the changes themselves have been quite costly but Penney says there are many easy and cheap ways to cut down heating bills.
"Just a draught excluder kit from any DIY store will make a big difference. That's one of the lowest cost things you can do. It will help with drafts coming in from underneath doors and around window frames," said Penney.
Their home is so go-ahead that in 2012 it scooped the Retrofit Pioneers of the Year prize from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Retrofitting means adding new technology to older homes.
Gil, 40, an architect, said: "We were surprised and delighted that we won the award. The fact that there is even a national award for this shows how far green retrofit has come.
"It is great to have been recognised as the pioneers in this area and to know that we have achieved something our grandchildren will be proud of."