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Hemlock
May 31st, 2008, 01:59 PM
Well we've made the decision after much talking to disconnect ourselves off the gas, mainly because our gas central heating has now had it. We thought about a condensing boiler but have taken the plunge and decided to get a special woodburner that runs the heating and water and multiple solar panels. We just can't afford the massive gas bills any more and this way will not only be considerably cheaper than installing a new boiler but we also live next to a forest so wood isn't really a problem.
No doubt there will be some cursing on a freezing February morning when we are lying under 6 duvets arguing about who's turn it is to light the woodburner:D
The solar panels will provide much of our energy in summer and make a big contribution towards light and running the p.c. We don't have television anyway.
Our bills next winter should be negligible, feeling excited but also a bit apprehensive! No more convenience living in our house.

ellaminnowpea
May 31st, 2008, 02:38 PM
Oh that's so awesome, Hemlock. I know a friend whos been of the grid for the past three years, it really is interesting! I hope everything works out great for you!

horselesspaul
May 31st, 2008, 03:11 PM
Brilliant.

I've just gone back to cooking and heating water on an open fire outdoors after 8 years of living in a house. Reacquired a full set of unenamelled cast cookware and am looking for a kettle.
http://homepage.mac.com/horselesspaul/.Pictures/IMG_2881.jpg
Hopefully by the time winter sets in I will have fitted a woodburner and small water heating system into my house.
I need too much electricity in order to work to use solar, unfortunately, since photovoltaic is not as effective here as, say, in California I would need more panels than the total roof area..
We as a community are looking into how we can best fit wind generation into our grid dependence reduction strategy.
All these things are also dependent on gaining the housing association's approval, which can be a real chore.

cobweb
May 31st, 2008, 04:31 PM
That's great, Hemlock.

We had a large multi-fuel burner in our last cottage which fulled all the heating and hot water. It is enough to make you curse first thing on a winter's morning when you have to shove on clothes to take out the ashes and bring in the wood, but it's so cozy!. We also used to warm soup on the top of it, boil the kettle, and cook potatoes inside it, very useful.

Now if we survived in North East Scotland with that system you'll be ok doon sooth! :D

You're lucky to have free wood it'll make all the difference. Are you going the whole distance and disconnecting from your electric?. That'd be fantastic.

ellaminnowpea
May 31st, 2008, 05:18 PM
No electric? I'd go crazy without it!

Corum
May 31st, 2008, 05:24 PM
I don't think we'd be going that far - though who knows? What made our minds up was when we went into a showroom today to have a look at stoves. Mostly, they kick out about 7 or 8kW (enough to heat at least a room) so if you use some of that for hot water, neither gets the whole heating.

We were shown the details of this boiler which is self contained (no extra back boiler) and kicks out about 19kW IIRC (will get the gen later) - 12 for the water/heating and 7 for the room heating. From this system, you can run up to 8 radiators - and couple this to a solar panel (we have space for two when we have our extension rebuilt later this year), we then go off the gas entirely.

For a fifth of the cost of the equivalent gas condensing boiler. :D

cobweb
May 31st, 2008, 07:38 PM
that's like the system we had, corum, it heated all our radiators and gave us hot water - very efficient if you have good fuel to stick on it. The solar panels would be an excellent accompianment.

snivelingchild
Jun 1st, 2008, 06:33 AM
Huzzah!!

emzy1985
Jun 1st, 2008, 09:24 AM
That's really cool Hemlock and Corum. Have you thought about how much wood you are gonna be using and whether you are gonna need to replace any trees after a while. Just thinking long term that's all.

Ruby Rose
Jun 1st, 2008, 06:33 PM
That's so exciting - you're in the Seaford area, aren't you? Was it easy to get planning permission for your solar panels etc?

mjnewbould
Jun 2nd, 2008, 12:43 PM
Are you having PV then - I once priced it up but it was much too expensive - many tens of thousands for very little electric. We heat our house on wood though and we have solar hot water - but have not yet gone for the PV but might sometime - I admire anyone who does!

Fungus
Jun 2nd, 2008, 01:10 PM
Sounds great :D
(this is if you want to go off the electricity grid as an example ..)
If you're going completely off-grid without grid backup then make sure you have everything right first though .. Definitely cut down your energy usage as much as you reasonably can, and then some - you can get power meters that plug into a wall socket that are great ..
Unless you're in a good wind location such as on the coast etc, wind won't really provide much power for you, solar does look very expensive at first but it will keep putting out power constantly basically without maintenance ..
Say you have 2 lights on for 3 hours per day and they're 13w cfl's , you'd have about 78whr's per day, and the computer might be on for 6 hours at about 50w if you got a good laptop? .. so thats about 300. Good rule of thumb is to be able to replace all you use in one day with one hour of full sun, which gives you enough on cloudy days too, with some more energy on sunny ones ..
So you'd need about 400w of panels, which would cost around 1,200-2000, but then you'd also need batteries, which would be around another 500, then an inverter to be able to power 240v items, which would cost around another 200 - 500 depending on quality .. so that adds up to around 2-3000, but you'd also have installation,wiring etc etc, not sure if you can do it yourself, otherwise you'd have to get someone in to do it which could cost a lot, you could easily get up to 4000 .. Just to give you a bit of an idea :)

Where would you source wood from - do you have woods or can you get it pretty easily?

A great book is 'How to live off-grid' - by Nick Rosen (I think thats his name IIRC?) which covers loads of aspects of off-grid including heating, electricity, housing, the 'lifestyle' etc etc etc..

Corum
Jun 2nd, 2008, 02:22 PM
That's so exciting - you're in the Seaford area, aren't you? Was it easy to get planning permission for your solar panels etc?
According to our council, "On pitched roofs of permanent buildings, solar panels are normally permitted development (with the exceptions such as being in a listed building) when they are permanently fixed to a roof and follow the roof line, and do not protrude more than 100 mm above the line of the roof."

so it's not a problem... :)

cobweb
Jun 2nd, 2008, 06:18 PM
That's really cool Hemlock and Corum. Have you thought about how much wood you are gonna be using and whether you are gonna need to replace any trees after a while. Just thinking long term that's all.


i do think this is a point - we went through a hell of a lot of wood for heating and hot water, we had to buy coal to supplement and it got quite expensive.

Hemlock
Jun 2nd, 2008, 07:08 PM
We live next to Friston Forest so wood certainly isn't a problem. They are constantly removing old trees to make room for new ones and clearing fallen trees so the supply is from conservation work rather than chopping trees down willy nilly. You can order seasoned wood by the ton. I don't know anyone round here who uses wood burning central heating, mostly people order small amounts of wood for standard wood burners or open fires.
Also the winters really aren't that cold here not like Scotland. We had no heating the winter just gone and to be honest it wasn't that cold.
We'll be insulating the house to the max and the water tank so any heat generated will be kept in.
It will all be carpeted too, I find wood/hard floors pretty cold.

cobweb
Jun 2nd, 2008, 08:52 PM
ha-ha, you're right there, Hemlock, i haven't lived in Sussex since the early 90s - i would probably find it really warm down there now! :D

btw, i hate hard floors - we have them now and i cannot bear them, can't wait to get back to carpets.

ivandurago
Jun 6th, 2008, 04:43 AM
Really impressive! The more we separate ourselves from this infrastructure that shoves greed, "wants" and "needs" down our throat the better off we will be. :thumbsup:

veganlinda
Jun 7th, 2008, 10:54 AM
wow! I have always been pretty happy living in rented accommodation but being able to go off the grid suddenly makes owning a house something to aim for!

Corum
Jun 7th, 2008, 01:15 PM
Just been to see the Woodburning stove we're getting! It's a beauty

http://www.eco-boiler.com/

We just have to rip out our old kitchen now, and see what we can do with the chimney that's there.

Hemlock
Jun 8th, 2008, 06:42 PM
We're disconnected from the gas and we've been ripping out the old kitchen which is disgusting underneath! The crud of ages and cooking oil and fatty deposits everywhere - yuk!
makes me think the next kitchen we get is going to have to be freestanding so I can clean it properly and it doesn't fester underneath for 25 years:umm:
We haven't quite got to th chimney breast yet but we're getting there. Photos later.

Hemlock
Jun 10th, 2008, 07:37 AM
We uncovered the first chimney breast from a thick layer of plasterboard yesterday to find it has been bricked up with breeze blocks, cement, plaster, bricks - what a mess. We will have to try and unblock it with a hammer drill this weekend.

herbwormwood
Jun 10th, 2008, 02:59 PM
You should be able to forage enough dead wood from your forest.
You could also do some guerilla coppicing!
There is also pine cones, tea bags and newspaper logs.
I saw a newspaper log maker in the natural collection catalogue. Do you know about them?

veganbikerboy
Jun 10th, 2008, 05:14 PM
We uncovered the first chimney breast from a thick layer of plasterboard yesterday to find it has been bricked up with breeze blocks, cement, plaster, bricks - what a mess. We will have to try and unblock it with a hammer drill this weekend.


Have you seen my pics in the Vegan DIY Thread? we did similar thing a couple of months ago, still cleaning up the dust now!! I opened up my chimney to put in a solid fuel rayburn.

http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8230&page=6

I am aiming to get off the grid as much as possible; although there are certain other factors i need to sort with my house first, as a priority.

This year I have reduced my gas (lpg) bill down from about 1000 to around 300. I have insulated the loft(still need an extra layer!!), dry lined walls and had my chimney lined so i can have an open fire. I have also been collecting wood / logs when ever possible. i didnt buy any logs this winter:D

good luck with your efforts:D

Hemlock
Jun 10th, 2008, 05:19 PM
Must have a look on that thread! We've seen the logmakers HW - they look pretty good, haven't heard of burning teabags tho':eek:

Fungus
Jun 10th, 2008, 05:28 PM
WVO (Waste vegetable oil) from a local chippy might work ok too .. just needs something to wick it - it won't just burn on its own .. could be good poured into newspaper logs.