We set out to design and build a highly insulated, low energy house. We took inspiration from 'the natural house' and the 'living house' concepts.
As part of our design to make the house low-energy we have avoided the use of pumps and motors where ever possible. Our space heating is provided via a Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) and our hot water is heated by solar panels and the wood-burner (with an immersion for back-up).
We managed to install an array of Solar PV panels on the garage just before the Feed in Tarriff deadline in 2012. Income from the Solar PV pays for all our energy usage (including the holiday cottage).
Outside we have built a vegetable garden and planted a small woodland.
The veggie garden has been providing us with butternut squash, beetroot, onions, sweetcorn, asparagus, gooseberries, blue berries and red currents. The fruit trees (apple, pear, plum, greenguage and apricot) haven't yielded much, as yet ...
The 300 trees (a mixture of oak, ash, chestnut, rowan, silver birch, beech, wild pear, hornbeam, hawthorn, maples, bird cherry, etc) have been growing really well and are due for their first thinning this Spring. The squirrels decided to start the thinning process for us this Autumn by stripping the bark from about 30 trees - mainly the field maple and a couple of hornbeams. Little buggers.