This is is a black & white listed building of around 1640.
It was in very poor repair when I bought it in 1985 and I tried to make it habitable without losing the period features but must admit that at that time sustainability was not a consideration. It needed complete re-roofing, re-wiring & re-plumbing.
More recently ,I have installed secondary glazing in the windows ; insulated the roof- space ; used that excellent material, sempatap, to insulate the interior surface of the sloping external walls upstairs ; installed LED light-fittings & gradually replaced dying electrical appliances with modern low-energy models.
The kitchen has an electric cooker and a wood-burning stove that also heats hot water for my bath-room & kitchen. In summer, the solar panels on the conservatory roof heat this water .
I built this small conservatory onto the south wall of the cottage so that it helps conserve heat in the cottage . It is furnished with a small table & four chairs so that one can sit there or alternatively one can carry the chairs onto the terrace just outside where there is a large table for meals in fine weather . It also houses a productive grapevine [ Black Hamburg ] and usually houses my lemon trees in winter, although if the weather is very harsh I carry them inside the house. In summer the lemons stand on the terrace against the south-facing wall of the conservatory and produce the only citrus fruit I use.
I do have a back-up immersion heater and there is a second tank with an immersion heater to provide hot water for the larger guest bedroom, when in use.
Anyone in the smaller guest bedroom shares my bathroom.
The sitting room also has a wood-burning stove and I have kept the beautiful old open fireplace in the dining room but only light a fire there when entertaining guests.
I do have electrical radiators in almost all the rooms but seldom turn them on.
In 1996 I bought 33 acres including the wooded hillside above the cottage, where the spring which had historically provided the water supply to the property is sited. I installed a storage tank just below the spring & piped the water down the hill to supply the needs of the property, apart from the cottage. The slope provides adequate though not ideal water pressure.
I have a septic tank which originally took all the “black water” from the 3 toilets & the “grey water” from both bathrooms & the kitchen. More recently, the grey water from my bathroom was made to drain into a tank fixed to the external wall of the cottage facing the drive & fitted with a tap so that I can use it for watering plants etc.
During a very cold winter, the water in this tank froze & the ice spread backwards into the cottage & blocked the bath & basin outlets, preventing me from using either for days. The water tanks in the roof-space froze at the same time.
I therefore insulated the internal pipework and tanks in the roof & and had a valve fitted so that I can drain the external grey-water tank each autumn.
Rainwater from the south-facing roof drains into a water-butt situated adjacent to the conservatory & herb garden, to be convenient for watering either, and rainwater is also collected from the stable roof, see below.
STABLE BLOCK=ZONE 1
I built the stable block in 1986.
Apart from being used by my horses and pony, the 3 stables are extremely useful for dealing with my sheep [ 10 Hebrideans & 12 Shropshires] and their lambs & for rearing chickens & ducklings.
It also comprises 2 adjoining storage areas, each the size of a double garage. One is used to store hay, feed & bedding for the animals. The other is used for general storage with my Kubota tractor the most important item. Above this latter area is a large loft with vermin-proof apple racks.
Water is collected off the north facing roof to a horse-trough in the yard & from the south-facing roof to a water-butt beside the greenhouse
ELECTRICITY -PHOTOVOLTAIC PANELS
In 2007 I installed photovoltaic panels on the south-facing roof of the stable block and in 2013 installed some more on the south-facing roof of my newly-built Eco-Cabin. In total, I generate about twice the amount of electricity that I consume.
Incidentally my consumption has declined from an average of 5000 kWh per annum to around 3500 kWh due to the above electricity saving measures, despite my having also got rid of the oil-fired Rayburn.
The south wall of the stable block was originally built right against a steep bank.
In 2008, I dug into the bank to build a large breeze-block walled cold store which opens out of the feed storage area described above.
In it I keep 2 small deep-freezers. Because it is a cold environment, they use less electricity than if sited elsewhere while the warm air they produce circulates through the cold store & out into the storage area, so preventing damp in either. One is usually empty & turned off for much of the summer, so saving electricity. I have 2 small freezers rather than one large one to give this flexibility.
I fill them with home-grown fruit & vegetables; with the lamb, chicken & duck that I produce and with presents from friends of Canada goose, pheasant, venison etc .
Cider making & bee-keeping equipment is kept in the cold-store, together with the apple juice, cider, honey & beeswax produced and also jams and elder-flower cordial. At present a bat seems to have decided to hang out there as well, rather annoyed whenever I go in there & switch on the light!
All the fuel used in the cottage is sourced from my woodland & is stored in the purpose-built woodshed, sited conveniently near to the kitchen door. The shed for the pony carts is adjacent
In 2013/2014 I built a multi-purpose Eco-Cabin with a balcony, using larch from my woodland, turned into planks on site. There are PV panels on the roof & LED lighting, electric sockets & WiFi inside. There is a wood-burning stove for heating & basic cooking and an adjoining sink & toilet. It can be used to hold meetings or parties or as a cafe/bar for Open days.
There is ample parking space by the eco-cabin, room for a BBQ and I have enough chairs, tables, crockery, cutlery & glasses etc for large gatherings. Indeed, two friends got married here one July with 160 guests! Sadly I have stopped having bonfires for climate change reasons.