Sustainable Houses

1930s Permaculture House Becomes Self-Sufficient Homestead

A 1930s Clacton house has recently been included in a network of eco-friendly permaculture homes, after its owner spent several years turning it into a modern sustainable residence.

Permaculture is all about developing sustainable ways of living, including producing your own energy and growing your own food. Chris Southall, a former member of the Tendering Eco Group, managed to turn his old house into a self-sufficient homestead, by making a series of improvements, which have won his model residence a place in Permaculture Association’s LAND learning network, which features eco-friendly and sustainable homes from around the UK. “We have put a lot of effort into sharing what we are doing with other people, and it means a lot to have our home recognised like this,” Chris said.

Some of the radical changes Southall made on his permaculture house on Burrs Road, Clacton, include adding an efficient solar panel kit (20 vacuum tubes 1700mm long), building a built a rain water harvesting system, and a grey water recycling system and installing a wood-fired central heating stove (he owns a small piece of woodland and is coppicing and replanting the trees there). He also managed to find a source of insulation off cuts in the industrial estate, and used them to insulate the flat roof. Chris says they are using a battery to store the electricity produced by the 1.6 Kw solar PV system, which gives the house some independence from the grid, but they do have to sacrifice some of that energy because of losses in charging the batteries.

“We have completed a lean-to greenhouse obtained from Freecycle and using recycled concrete blocks from a demolition next door to give us solar gain and plant growing space, including a rock storage for excess heat recycling (now working well). “We have planted 30 willow cuttings from Willowbank – 4 varieties for comparison – 3 sorts of super willow and one for making baskets etc. These arrived as unrooted lengths of willow shoots and have been planted at 1 meter spacing. They have grown over two meters in the first year !”

“It’s a very good scheme and means we will get people coming here who want to learn about the things we are doing,” Chris Southall commented on the addition of his house to the Permaculture Association’s LAND learning network.

via Green Building Press

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