There can’t be many houses in the UK that can claim they have no heating system at all. Mike Coe and Lizzie Stoodley live in one of them, an extremely energy-efficient house with a high thermal mass that absorbs the sun’s heat in the summer and gently gives it back in the winter months.
However, they took it one step further. In addition to creating an ultra low energy home they decided to bring in-house the provision of water supply and the disposal of waste. Not many people consider the inefficiencies of our external services let alone choose to do something about it! Clean drinking water has an energy cost attached due to all the treatment, pumping and infrastructure required to get it to our taps. It’s also slightly ironic that very little of this ‘drinking’ water gets used for drinking anyway. Most of it is used to flush the loo or fill up the bath!
So Mike and Lizzie harvest rainwater for all of their needs, storing it below ground in giant recycled orange juice containers. Mike says: “If we see that there is going to be a very long dry spell coming up we need to be sure we don’t waste water. So for instance you wouldn’t water the garden, you wouldn’t wash the car.” This puts them back in touch with the seasons and makes them really appreciate their resources.
They also have composting toilets, which completely eliminate the need to use water for flushing. These toilets are also inside the thermal envelope, which is quite unusual, but it can be done if the system is designed and constructed properly.
Listen to my chat with Mike as he explains more of the detail and why they chose to remain connected to the electricity grid. Download the podcast from iTunes.