West Dorset Open EcoHomes
- A video has been made of 2015 EcoHomes - follow this link. Ro, Sally, Jyoti and Julie talk about the inspiration they get from others, and why they are happy to talk about sustainable living. In this version the introduction with Emily and Sam has been cut.
- There is a video of some of the Ecohomes from 2013 which can be viewed here. They were produced by filmaker Ali Cameron with Pete West, and support from CLS.
- Other information can be found by follow the menu links on the left.
- 2016 open EcoHomes details can be found here. Please pick up a leaflet from the information centre.
Feedback from EcoHomes 2015Thanks for all the people who went onto the survey website in November to tell us whether they had made any changes to their homes, and whether it had been as a result of visiting any of the EcoHomes in the last three years? You can view some of the results here.
A Prize draw was held as a thank you to all the participants. The winner of the Haynes Manual for Eco-Houses was Grenville Barr from Lyme Regis.
Illustrations by Petra Hughes
EcoHomes - Two visitors' viewsAlex and Lesley met last year while visiting some EcoHomes, and decided to see as many as they could this year - they managed nine! Here is their account of what they saw.
A sunny August day, sitting drinking tea in Alex’s courtyard garden we were looking through the ‘hot off the press’ Sept ‘15 Eco Open Home brochure and plans were already taking shape. I met Alex at a house in 2014 Eco Open Weekend, we bumped into each other again on the Transition town Bridport’s curtain lining and draught proofing workshops and we started attending the monthly ‘green drinks’ at the Tiger Inn, an opportunity to meet like-minded folk and enjoy a very sociable evening. We planned our weekend with precision and with ‘eco’ in mind, carefully produced a timetable and booked our tickets early so as not to miss out. We meant business!
It all started on a Thursday night with a Transition Town talk on passive houses and the carbon value of different building materials. Some of the ideas were new to us, technically calculated and required concentration but over the weekend these ideas would be put into context. We mentioned our weekend plans to Sam. “Nine homes, it can’t be done” were his words. What more incentive did we need other than to show what determined individuals we were.
We could not have hoped for better weather on that weekend. Our first visit on Friday morning was an ‘off the grid’ house. We were anticipating something worthy but needing commitment to live in. Wow, what a feat of engineering and perseverance. This was a beautiful, family home that was the envy of us all. The details such as a cedar shingle roof, beautiful reclaimed stained glass windows, that had been triple glazed and a landscaped reed bed filter system to name but a few. What a fine example of sheer determination to succeed in living an alternative eco lifestyle, despite resistance from planners.
Saturday, armed with a packed lunch on a beautiful day, our first visit was Hillfield Friary, a Franciscan community, with internally retrofitted insulation and photovoltaic roof panels. There, we experienced our first demonstration of a working 200KW wood pellet burning stove of epic proportion. It was apparent that there was an extremely strong community spirit where everyone pulled together to work and to enjoy the fruits of their labour. It was from here that communal living manifested itself, as an appealing possibility for the future.
Moving on, the ‘Chalk House’ is a relatively new build, designed by an enthusiastic young architect, who is the owners’ son. This property was built utilising chalk, quarried from the site and is designed to optimise use of the sun’s warmth and natural light, with black slate tiles, absorbing/releasing heat. The wood pellet burner was a much friendlier size.
Our third home is in West Bexington, a charming, rented house overlooking the coast, demonstrating examples of simple, yet effective changes that could be made on a tighter budget, including rainwater harvesting together with a filtration and pump system. Substantial savings could be seen from a water bill which was displayed in amongst the various leaflets. As they say 'seeing is believing'. Internally, there was ‘DIY’ secondary glazing heat-shrink film which insulates impressively against draughts and sound. There is small apple orchard with an apple/cider press and even a wormery.
The Puncknowle house, has an ‘eco’ extension and an impressive spacious, self-built cellar that accommodates a large wood pellet boiler and wood pellet storage. Our final home of the day,
Claremont Road which from the exterior, looks to be a very ‘normal’, property however this is certainly not the case. Once a modest bungalow, similar to mine, (Lesley’s), now converted into a beautiful eco-friendly family home with straw bale extension and green roof. The owners also installed triple glazing, mechanical ventilation heat recovery (MVHR) and high levels of insulation but most importantly, it has been retro-built/fitted, with careful consideration to materials containing some of the lowest embedded carbon values. Well what a day, 5 eco homes but we did it and still had Sunday in Lyme Regis, yet to experience.
Sunday, again, was as beautiful a day and we started with Solways Orchard, originally a Woolaway bungalow with a large plot. The owners were ahead of their time when they designed their new property to replace the existing building, back in the late 1990’s. A rainwater harvest tank had been built into the house’s original plans. This home incorporates the simplest measures, from low energy LED lighting to the more complex MVHR, high level insulation, under-floor heating, triple glazing, solar PV and countless other impressive eco measures.
Our 8th visit was to ‘The Little Place’, possibly the most challenging type of home due to its listing, therefore limiting the choice of glazing options, to secondary glazing, professionally made to measure or the DIY alternative, heat-shrink window film and draught excluding strip, installed here. Far from being ‘little, this was a relatively large, Georgian house incorporating photovoltaic panels within the veranda’s glass roof, requiring listed building consent. There is an interesting recycled glass bottle wall, a green house with a ‘green’ roof, a large garden with a vegetable plot and an area for the chickens. The owners were encouraging the ‘grow your own’ philosophy and shared a Comfrey fertilizer ‘recipe’ with us. We met an interesting lady who was promoting some waste reducing ideas ‘such as utilising pressure cookers, recipe books to make use of leftover food, eco washing balls and good old fashioned soda crystals for eco cleaning, to list just a few. In need of refreshment we took a break for a pleasant lunch, we actually found time.
Our last visit was Greenties Plot, a new, in progress, fairly ambitious self-build project with pegged and braced timber frame, using locally sourced timber. Well-water will serve the garden and when built, the garage roof will accommodate solar panels. It will be interesting to return to see the finished result if the opportunity presents itself.
It must be said that we were made to feel very welcome by all the hosts and most always offered refreshments. It was extremely encouraging to meet so many like-minded people with a wealth of combined knowledge, together with an eagerness to raise awareness and spread the ‘eco word’. We may never be as adventurous in our eco-choices as some of our hosts however, we were shown new possibilities that can be adopted in our own homes. At a very basic level, we can reduce water and energy consumption merely by being more energy conscious. We need to break from the ‘throw away’ society in which we now live and readopt the old ‘make do and mend’ philosophy. So get started, if you haven’t already and switch off those ‘stand-by’, electrical items, use low energy LED lighting, turn off that running tap whilst brushing teeth, harvest rainwater for your garden and turn down that thermostat by a degree or several. All these smaller measures add up and our combined efforts can help preserve the future of our precious planet. There is enormous opportunity to make an impact ‘now’ so that there is a hopeful future. See you next year!
Lesley and Alex