A look inside a high-tech Flintshire eco-home
PUBLISHED: 00:22 05 July 2013
A Flintshire entrepreneur has transformed a derelict farmhouse near Northop into an amazing eco-home with the latest technology
Solar panels, micro wind turbines and rainwater harvesting are part of a futuristic Flintshire farmhouse allowing its owner to live the modern good life.
Field Farm just outside Northop is the home of Russell White, who has transformed what was a derelict farmhouse into an eco-home boasting the latest renewable technology and next to no monthly fuel bills.
Green entrepreneur Russell has spent five years developing his environmentally friendly property, which features a network of renewable energy systems that generate 7,000 kW of electricity a year, more than enough to power the four bedroom property.
On top of having almost no monthly bills, excess electricity from Field Farm is sold back to the National Grid, generating £1,400 a year for Russell and his family.
The zero-carbon property is the pride and joy of 45-year-old Russell, who wants businesses and home-owners to join his green revolution.
Russell said: ‘It’s the first house of its kind in the country to have all of these different technologies working in harmony. I’ve since had other people visit to copy the idea, which I’m really proud of, seeing as I designed and built it.
‘When we came here, it was an absolute wreck. We tore the old building down and started again. The project took about five years in total, but it’s been well worth it.
‘I love living here, and knowing that we’ll never have to pay energy bills again is a fantastic feeling, particularly considering how prices are rising. We’ve been here for two years now, and haven’t had any problems. Even with the snow and awful weather that happened recently, we still stayed warm. When it was minus 12 degrees on the coldest day, we still had plenty of hot running water.’
Every aspect of life at Field Farm is backed up by environmentally friendly technology.
A rain and greywater harvesting system provides the Whites with their water, which is warmed up by a roof-top solar heating system.
A total of 16 photovoltaic tiles and a pair of micro wind turbines generate year-round electricity, and rooms throughout the home are heated thanks to a biomass boiler and insulated bricks made from recycled wood packed with highly efficient insulation.
If the temperature drops below 15 degrees outside, electrical ribbon under-floor heating kicks in to keep the rooms toasty, and a ventilation system circulates warm air from the hottest rooms in the house, ensuring heat from the kitchen and bathrooms that would usually be lost doesn’t go to waste.
A log-burning stove provides further warmth as well as a carbon-neutral method of cooking dinner, and the house is lit with energy-efficient LED bulbs with a lifespan of at least 25 years.
Russell’s passion for sustainable living even stretches into the garden, where he grows his own vegetable and keeps pigs and chickens.
As well as neutralising his fuel bills, Russell has also overseen the refurbishment of 39 other local properties with similar zero-carbon energy systems, the owners of which no longer have to worry about utility bills dropping through their letterboxes.
Having set up the UK’s first eco-showroom on Chester Road in Mold, which uses solar power to generate electricity and hot water and has an insulating turf roof, Russell is now calling on other business owners to follow his lead and take advantage of government incentives for switching to renewable energy.
Russell said: ‘I’ve refurbished 39 homes that now have no running costs. They are all old properties that we’ve refurbished, and now either cost very little or are actually making money.
‘For some reason, people seem to think that renewable energy is expensive and inefficient, but it really isn’t. The cost of installing the various systems is offset by the saving you make in fuel bills, and there are government initiatives in place to encourage people to think about green energy production.
‘This area is totally unique in leading on renewables, because there’s nobody else that I’m aware of in the UK doing this sort of thing.
“Renewable energy gives businesses an amazing opportunity to save money. For example, an 80 kW biomass boiler, which would easily heat a medium-sized bed and breakfast, can earn the occupant £10,900 a year for 20 years – that’s just one of the initiatives the government has on offer.
‘If businesses up and down the UK took it on board, we could be investing in staff and development, rather than huge running costs. I really believe green energy has a huge part to play in the future of our economy.’
Having perfected the eco-home of the future, Russell’s next project is to complete further green buildings at Field Farm, starting with an eco-warehouse to store Allbrite stock.
The 4,000sq ft barn includes the same energy efficient features as his home, highlighting how green technology can be used to suit all manner of businesses.
Russell is also building a renewable energy training centre, which will allow him to spread the word to the next generation of eco-entrepreneurs, and has more plans in the pipeline to develop his home’s green credentials.
‘The next thing I’m looking at is installing some batteries for the home. It would allow me to store some of the excess energy we create, but the technology’s not quite where I want it to be yet. Hopefully within the next 12-18 months.
‘When you see that the average family’s fuel bills are more than £1,600 a year, it just makes sense to plan for the future and save money.’
Technologies installed in house
• 3 x1.5kw Microwind Turbines – generating approximately 4.5kw of electricity per year
• 4kw Solar PV System – generating approximately 3.6kw of electricity per year
Hot Water Generation
• Solar thermal hot water
• Wood-burning cooker and back boiler
• Electric ribbon underfloor heating (no need for radiators!)
• Biomass wood pellet stove
• Advanced heat recovery system
• Rainwater harvesting
• Well water
• Dimmable LED lighting in every room
• Structure of house is made from recycled pallet wood blocks with Rockwool insulation
• Central vacuum system