Jump to content

Environmental cost effectiveness


Iceni
 Share

Recommended Posts

We are working long and hard on our renovation and have been looking at many environmental products to make our home liveable and also to ‘save the planet’. The trouble is that much of the ‘environmental’ ware is not cost effective under 15 years.- your comments would be welcome - but please remember we do not have unlimited pockets. Our age does make us think in terms of 10 years max for payback.

 

Solar panels – with two of us in the barn we can look at 15 years payback – far too long and I cannot seem to get any details of how long the things last.

 

Wind power, we have looked at this and I really cannot see how we could justify the cost for the above reasons.

 

Good insulation, we are using good insulation – the best we can afford and have taken advice on this.  Every 1 degree C increase in temperature in most forms of heating = 6 to 10% increase in heating costs (depending on which site you look at). We are also using sound insulation as and where necessary.

 

Renewable energy, we are looking to use wood if we can. We currently use a wood burner for heating and some cooking so we hope we can use a wood fired boiler for the central heating but it may have to be oil .

 

Source of wood – luckily we live within 2 km of a huge wood yard and they also sell 1 metre rolls of offcuts. These are the edges of the trunk that they take off to get beams. The offcuts are 1 metre long and we just cut to size – they are in the region of a quarter of the cost of a stere of wood and fit into a trailer.

 

Long life bulbs, where ever possible.

 

The biggest environmental action we think we can take is to reduce the need for heating a huge barn as much as possible and so we have built a small 40 sq m apartment where we will huddle as and when the winter gets bad. We are currently living in it so know that this would not be a problem.

 

I now hang my head in shame – we are probably going for UVPC barn doors. The factory is 2 km away and to source doors of 12 x 10 feet in wood is not only problematic but horrendous in cost.

 

It is a shame that what we would like to do we cannot do but such is life.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Methinks : I'm sure that you knew that I would respond to this impassioned plea.

Much to talk about technologies new and old. A world of choices and more options that you can digest in one go. And definitely way to many to discuss in sufficient detail to be of any use on the forum. If you want real solutions to specific problems than send me an email or ph no. and I'm happy to go round the block with you.

In short you'll need to be specific on what sort of things are important to you... What do you expect in return for your investment? What sort of life? How far do you want to go... Complete self sufficiency.. ?occasional dependence on utilities Co.s...? or just cheaper bills?

(does look like I'm being brief or short)..(stop now)

Andrew

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]We are working long and hard on our renovation and have been looking at many environmental products to make our home liveable and also to ‘save the planet’. The trouble is that much of the ‘environmen...[/quote]

Isn't there a difference between "environmental" and "cost-saving" issues? I have no particular axe to grind with the environmentalists, I am far too selfish to take environmental issues into account unless they are obvious money and environment savers.

So I shall explore your (interesting) comments from a dispassionate, engineering point-of-view;

Energy, like most things is influenced by economies of scale. I doubt if you can generate electricity (eg.) at a lower cost or environmental impact per kilowatt/hour than EDF. Small wind generators are excellent when no other power source is available (I use one on my boat, only because I can't run the engine all the time), but useless in "normal" lifestyle terms. Likewise electric solar panels, which are simply too expensive. You must also consider the vast amounts of energy required to manufacture alot of these devices. If you believe that nuclear energy is non-polluting, then this has to be the most environmentally friendly source of energy there is?

Solar water heating on the other hand is realistic, and about as environmentally friendly as you can get, provided you a) build the panels yourself and b) use metals, rather than plastics (IMHO). I use solar heating on our pool - not for any environmental reasons, simply because it is cheaper.

Insulation is important. However, I believe that the significant increase in asthma is caused by modern houses that are simply not well enough ventilated, plus our over use of carpets...

Is burning wood, even if it is sustainable (and the French are good at that), environmentally friendly? Again it depends upon your definition, but not IMHO.

Anything uPVC takes huge amounts of energy to produce (no idea of the figures, but orders of magnitude more than wood), but you know that!

Do you mean long-life or low-energy bulbs - neither of which will make a significant difference in the grand scheme of things.

There are many superb examples of "environmentally friendly" (why the quote marks?) houses which are also cheap to run (and whether this is a byproduct or intentional I don't know). However, they are universally expensive to set up.

In my opinion, you can only do what is right for you. It is wrong for you to put environmental considerations before your comfort or cash-flow. Equally, it is wrong for you to destroy your localality to further your living conditions.... There must be a happy median, especially in this non-EF country - I'm bugg***d if I know where it is!

Fascinating subject. 9/10!

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am probably going to put the cat among the pigeons with this posting but here goes.

 

If I can buy an effective environmentally friendly option at the same price an another I’ll always go that way, I turn off lights when a room’s not in use, don’t use the car when it’s practical to walk or cycle, ensure everything is well insulated and try not to waste energy, but I’m afraid that’s about as far as it goes. Quality of life is important so when it’s wet I use the Tumble Dryer rather than having wet washing hanging around and in the same way I’m afraid I don’t see the logic of restricting yourself to a special apartment within a house during winter, unless it’s on economic grounds.

If the rest of the world decided to do there bit I would feel differently but as long as Far Eastern economies continue to expand unchecked and with no environmental controls, (an article in, I think, The Times recently stated that CO2 emissions in China alone had increased by twice the reduction made by the rest of the world combined over the last 12 month,) I don’t see the point in making large personal sacrifices, usually financial, for insignificant environmental gain.

Don’t waste it un-necessarily but don’t become a slave to it either.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]Isn't there a difference between "environmental" and "cost-saving" issues? I have no particular axe to grind with the environmentalists, I am far too selfish to take environmental issues into account ...[/quote]

I Love it when Nick goes off on one !!

 

"....Do you mean long-life or low-energy bulbs - neither of which will make a significant difference in the grand scheme of things....

If every light bulb in the country (either country) was changed to a long-life one: all those 60W changed 11W and 100w to 20w a whole power station could be moth-balled with that much less oil burnt; that much less CO2 stuffed into the atmosphere.

.....Is burning wood, even if it is sustainable (and the French are good at that), environmentally friendly? Again it depends upon your definition, but not IMHO..."

Explain yourself man !

go on, your turn...

 

paul

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am affraid I agree with Moulin on this one . Just watched a programme called global dimming looks like the only thing holding back global warming is air polution sad I know.

       A  man with a fishing rod will never over fish the sea but put a factory ship out there and......

Do our bit but .......

                   Dave

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most people round here make their own barn doors from wood.

I understand that wood is an environmentally neutral fuel, as long as it doesn't have to be transported a significant distance. The effect of its lifetime more than cancels out the effect of its combustion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]I Love it when Nick goes off on one !! "....Do you mean long-life or low-energy bulbs - neither of which will make a significant difference in the grand scheme of things.... If every light bulb i...[/quote]

Yes, hence my question! Long-life bulbs are just that, long-life, they are ordinary tungsten bulbs which last longer (than ordinary ones). Low energy bulbs are flourescent tubes in pretty shapes. They use less power for the same amount of light (by producing a different kind of light and as someone else has said, can cause eye/headache probs, as do flourescent lights). Of course you are right about fossil-fuel powered stations, but they are not the predominant type in France, are they?

As far as wood is concerned, surely burning wood is a significant source of "pollution", not to mention harvesting and transport costs. It is also fantastically inefficient (as a fuel; 1%?).

And "going off on one?" I thought I was doing just the opposite, I was being balanced & constructive. I am also in the lucky position of not having to explain myself to anyone (apart from 'er indoors), unless I choose to do so.

As you are sensitive to my contributions, I'll f*** off now.

N Trollope BSc BA (cantab)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]Isn't there a difference between "environmental" and "cost-saving" issues? I have no particular axe to grind with the environmentalists, I am far too selfish to take environmental issues into account ...[/quote]

Isn't there a difference between "environmental" and "cost-saving" issues?

Personally I would consider you to be correct in that assumption. However it was so cold, -1 this morning, that my brain might be suffering from the shock.

If we are to respect the environment then barns are problematic as they deprive various creatures of their natural habitat. But on the other hand they often make beautiful homes for people. So therefore the arguement put forward in the original post about using sustainable/environmently friendly materials is from the outset already flawed. Yet, repeating what I said before they are often beautiful buildings and particularly in Dept 46. In fact several examples of well considered conversions in that region are discussed by Maisons Paysannes de France on their website.

Sound insulation in large buildings like barns and old farmhouses is always necessary unless one wants to listen to the bodily functions of those you live with in stereophonic sound. It's essential and not really an environmentally friendly thing to do.

Respecting the environment in my book also applies to respecting the vernacular architecture too, if at all possible. It costs I know, but the end result if done well blends in with the surroundings. I'm afraid I would give a thumbs down to the UPVC barn doors even if the cost is high for the wood version.

PS. Consider fitted carpets to be a perfect formula for wall to wall fleas.

Thank goodness France has a love affair with le carrelage.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Would love 12 x 10 foot wooden barn doors BUT the carpenter will not touch it - far too big, other professionals want 2 years or will not even bother to quote - Sobal came round when they said they would - about 3 days wait and the quote should be with us on Friday. They have done other barn doors in our hamlet for the French. Apart from this, I don't think we could afford the cost of oak doors of this size and for a good half the time the shutters will be closed so only the 'French doors' will be seen. The shutters will be open when we can take advantage of the sun hitting the windows to heat the interior - spring and autumn.

We have or are making all our other doors and shutters - this is just soooooo huge. We could fill it in with wood/stone and just have the small doors but why have a barn if you cant do something with the actual architecture. You never know, if we come into money (not likely as we have no relatives to leave us any) we may do the doors later in wood.

And "going off on one?" I thought I was doing just the opposite, I was being balanced & constructive. I am also in the lucky position of not having to explain myself to anyone (apart from 'er indoors), unless I choose to do so.

As you are sensitive to my contributions, I'll f*** off now.

Nick, I thought you were being very constructive and was grateful for your input. I agree totally about the cost of making the solar panels etc.

This is not just about the building (which was already undergoing renovation when we bought it as they had run out of money and I may say that we have had to undo almost everything they did) but about actually living in it - and another 2 or 3 years on top of this one just to get doors, - well sorry, but life is too short.

We have used wood for all the interior beams and floors joists - if we had done what the French and many Brits do, this would have been done with steel or concrete, so we have tried to keep the renovation in keeping with the building.

Using the apartment in winter is simply about saving money - it is a ruddy big barn and for just two of us seems stupid to heat the whole thing.

On a totally different note, there was a film the other night Soylent Green  by Harry Harrison. This was written and filmed in 73 with Charlton Heston and Edward G Robinson - the basis of the film was the horror caused by global warming and how they fed the ever growing population. So if they knew about gw in the 60's/70's why oh why didn't someone do something????

Thanks for all your comments, very welcome.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I have had a busy couple of days and not nearly enough time to check in with the current discussion, which I might add I find interesting but sadly not very enlightening. One point has been niggling at me all day though.

Those of you whom I am sure are very knowledgeable, would you fill me in on why the blazes you are factoring the transport cost of wood for in an environmental debate. It seems that you are saying, and correct me if I've got it wrong, that the diesel burnt by a lorry to transport wood from where it was grown to your house makes the use of wood wholly unacceptable as an sustainable energy source. Well maybe we should also include in the the fuel in the sawyers chain saw, oh and don't forget the bread and cheese he had for lunch and the petrol he burnt to get to work... it goes on. It just pure nonsense.

Look, that argument is just silly. Unless you have an oil or gas field bubbling away in your back yard. I've just been out and looked in mine and sadly NOPE.. I've got nothing... not so much as a trickle or a vent of natural gas then your going to also have to factor in the transport cost of crude oil FROM SIBERIA,IRAK, NORTH SEA AND WHERE EVER ELSE FRANCE BUYS HER FUEL. Not to mention the infrastructure which was employed to bring it to your door. (sorry for shouting but I thought you weren't paying attention)

So you silly sods, don't go getting all worked up about whether using wood is good... it just is? It grows everywhere, you cut down ..it grows again..OK. Leave the timber industry alone .. people like it and its good for the Carbon Credits of France.. its friendly and it looks nice, in window and in fireplaces and growing in the forest. If you want to get all scientific then I'll match your degrees and raise you a couple.

Andrew

(You know I feel a whole lot better now. where my cup of tea?)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]Well I have had a busy couple of days and not nearly enough time to check in with the current discussion, which I might add I find interesting but sadly not very enlightening. One point has been niggl...[/quote]

Well said Andrew !

(I'd write more but it's difficult to type and applaud at the same time)

 

Wood is carbon neutral, and that's that !

paul

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]Well I have had a busy couple of days and not nearly enough time to check in with the current discussion, which I might add I find interesting but sadly not very enlightening. One point has been niggl...[/quote]

I think that I was asking a question about the environmental credentials of buring wood (a practice of which I heartily approve, BTW) as a fuel. Your "comments" or loud comments have not answered that question, so, my humble opinion hasn't changed. Burning "green" (small g, as in non-fossil) fuels is inefficient - and consequently must cause above-average levels of pollution. The fact that trees reduce carbon diioxide is incidental; if you didn't burn them, they would still reduce (the lower) levels of CO2.

And why not include transport in an environmental debate? Isn't transport a huge polluter? Or is someone suggesting that we only us local (as in mule cart transportable) energy? I don't think that anyone (apart from you) has said that using wood as a fuel was "wholly unacceptable". As for nonnsense.....

If the Green lobby are serious about reducing CO2 (which I have no doubt they are), why do they not attempt to boycott the products of the major contributors of CO2 - The US & China eg.

My questions are not silly, nor am I a stupid sod. What's more, you cannot convince anyone with a comment like " ... it just is", unless they really are.

I assume that you are a scientist, which I am not (I am an engineer). My questions were raised in response to a posting which also asked questions. Isn't this what science is about?

I don't doubt your word, where the science is concerened, but where is your proof? I also assume that you are part of the Green agenda (forgive me if I am wrong). If that is the case, answer me a simple question; why is nuclear energy (of which I don't approve, BTW) is not "green"?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well.. now that I have lowered the discussion to an completely unattractive level we have some stuff to get out there. But I should apologise for my Crescendo, I'm more fond of Berceuse, the former is so ... Baroque!

Lets put aside who we are and what we think we know an focus on the ideas and the 'what is useful and what is not'.

What's not useful is to derive an unsound conclusions from poor information.

You mentioned pollution... which is what, Carbon? yes very nasty when there is too much of it. We are made of it so are trees. CO2 is taken from the atmosphere and stored in the wood until it is burned and then its released (Nil sum)... it is also released if you don't burn it.... dead trees degrade and give off methane (mostly carbon ... Nil sum) That is why its environmentally sound to burn wood. Burning OIl gives of carbon and a suite of nearly 260 other compounds (hmmm nasty ..yes)

burning wood is Inefficient... baloney, systems exist off the shelf which are every bit as efficient in Kw yield to oil and gas. Some are more efficient so that one will not wash. The fact that some households might still want to use an inefficient open fire might not be the best choice, but it looks nice.

Including Transport in the debate.. will be the death of the argument that oil and gas are a viable sources of energy. During 1994, a pipeline burst and spread more than 1 million tons of oil on the tundra, in the Komi Republic, Norther Russia. £60 million was spent, and 6 lives were lost over the clean up; Some think that the Iraq war was all about oil & gas.The energy cost of getting this resource to your door is nearly as mush as the energy it delivers. 2 for 1

Green lobby.. they do their best. The US produces more greenhouse gases that the rest of the world together... they walked out of the Kyoto agreement in the first week that Bush took power. They don't listen to the UN, they won't listen to reason of any sort. Why blame the Green lobby for that. For my part, I am not particulary of the green agenda. What are you doing about it?

Well, enough of the www.what'swrongwiththeworld.com

the people on this forum want ideas talking about what they can do to live better and spend less doing it. That's what I'm trying to offer, nothing more. If what I say doesn't make sense then I have been of no use and most will ignore the post. The things I want to get across are: before thinking of heating, first look to insulation, draft management, convection, good interior design. Does the house use the sun for passive solar heating, hot water heating. Can you use the grounds thermal resources in a heat pump. Then get rid of the stuff that's killing you - products in the house with nasty stuff in them that takes your health away a bit at a time. Collect water off the roof for non palatable use, so you don't have to buy it. Then let's get to the stuff that you do have to buy and see what is the most cost efficient system, for space heating - its wood. For light and other stuff -electricity I'm not a fan of Nuclear, (Its not that clean it does have waste...I particularly don't like the MOCS plant strategically place on the west coast of UK.. so that if it goes up the Irish get annihilated first. Also Moruroa Atoll will be a little hot for a few thousand years to come.... HMMMM... CHEAP ELECTRICITY depends what you mean by 'cheap'.) Nothing to do about that though.

There's a lot more stuff but lets look at that a while..

 

Andrew

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]Well.. now that I have lowered the discussion to an completely unattractive level we have some stuff to get out there. But I should apologise for my Crescendo, I'm more fond of Berceuse, the former is...[/quote]

I don't know what you mean by "a completely unattractive level", but I will take that one on the chin. I thought that we were having a discussion about Green issues - of course there are the "me too" brigade who have nothing to contribute to any discussion, who insist on getting their pennies worth in (present company excepted, of course!).

Thanks for the info - which is what I was after.

Nonetheless, surely we must face the fact that, if we want to relax at above ambient temperature, or drink clean water (or pooh on a hygienic toilet), then there is genuinely no truly green way of doing it. Even when you accept that burning wood is carbon neutral, what consideration do we make for the other factors surrounding the fire - insulation and plasterboard in the walls, concrete in the floor and the like - all of which require huge amounts of energy (especially concrete!) to manufacture. And so on.

As to what I am doing about it;

We burn wood (on an open fire!) most of which comes from naturally felled timber and coppicing (I still can't believe that, given eg. a diesel IC engine is no more than 30% efficient, that an open fire is more than a few %). I go around switching off lights after everyone else. We heat with oil - as background heating in a reasonably tight house. We water the garden from a well, which was the same source of water for the pool, which is heated with a home-designed solar heater. The house I plan to build down the road will be built from as many renewable materials as possible (ie no concrete blocks).

BUT, this has nothing to do with being green (although I reckon I am fairly so), it is about saving money. Which brings us back neatly to the OP's original point, I believe.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm intrigued Di - why are the doors and shutters going to be closed throughout the summer? We have our shutters nearly closed in the heat of the day but the rest of the time everything is open.

Get several quotes from local menusieres - you may get price down - we have some spectacular barn door windows around here and they really "make" the place. We love ours but it was one of the first things we had made for security so didn't really shop around much (tres cher).

Also why make such a generalisation about Brits using concrete and steel for joist and beam replacement?  I've never seen this - everyone I know has used wood, some old/some green oak/some pine but I haven't seen an RSJ anywhere yet except for the one in our barn (which previous owners (French) had put in for strength/cheapness!!). Brits are also more inclined to use wooden studwork because the metal rail system isn't generally used by DIYers in the UK.

You may need to rethink the oil heating - oil price today .5041 euros; oil price this time last year .3705 euros per litre! (We get a good price as we share tanker with neighbour!) What will it be in 10 years if there is any left? Friend bought Bosky to run central heating and heat downstairs (electric water heating for summer). Later we may have to change.

bon chance..........helen

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi all

I'm a bit nervous replying now for fear of being part of the "me too" brigade mentioned as I don't usually get involved in the discussions. Other people usually manage to represent my thoughts and far more eloquently! However I have been following this thread with interest as yes, I too want to renovate and live in as environmentally friendly a way as possible. The one aspect of all this that has only just been mentioned is the use of rainwater recycling. This is something I have been trying to fathom out how to utilise as it seems, on the face of it, more attainable than some ideas . If anyone has practical knowledge of a homemade system to use rainwater for fushing loos (and possibly even washing machines I thought), please share it here or PM me.

Another thought, anyone used sheep's wool or other natural materials for insulation? I'd be very interested in the viability of using it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Argh, I have to leave my shutters shut in the heat of the summer. I wouldn't dream of leaving them ajar, they must be firmly shut. I'm having palpatations just thinking about letting all that heat in , or any heat in that isn't necessary. And if it is too hot and the air isn't moving then the windows stay shut too. If there is some air, I like to open the windows at various points in the house and try and let the air flow through. We never got around to having any air con and won't bother now.

When it is hot we live like cave men. I think that hot is very overrated for every day living. And at the moment, as it is -x° here at the moment, I leave most of the shutters shut too, as extra insulation in rooms we aren't using.

If the Iceni's leave their shutters shut in the summer heat, they will just be doing as the majority of their neighbours, I'm sure.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]I'm intrigued Di - why are the doors and shutters going to be closed throughout the summer? We have our shutters nearly closed in the heat of the day but the rest of the time everything is open. Get...[/quote]

Hi Helen

The shutters will be closed when the sun is in full force in the summer to keep the heat out and in the winter to keep the heat in. Even with double/triple glazing, adding closed shutters adds to the heat retention in the winter no end. The window faces west so the shutters will probably be closed for most of a hot day also.

Getting quotes from local carpenters - well  how do we get them to give us a quote - they are simply all too busy, books filled for the next n years. We need a carpenter with a lot of decent equipment and the only company we can think of locally have not exactly got an enviable reputation, they are just the only ones who handle big jobs at big prices.

Also why make such a generalisation about Brits using concrete and steel for joist and beam replacement?  I've never seen this - everyone I know has used wood, some old/some green oak/some pine but I haven't seen an RSJ anywhere yet except for the one in our barn (which previous owners (French) had put in for strength/cheapness!!). Brits are also more inclined to use wooden studwork because the metal rail system isn't generally used by DIYers in the UK.

With regard to the above, our area is obviously different from yours. We also don't know anyone who is renovating using wooden studwork - the metal rail system is far easier to handle and our carpenter prefers it as do we.

We are rethinking the c.h. and getting various systems for heating priced for us. A large wood burner with back boiler will def be part of the system. Oil may be expensive but you have to consider the problems with feeding a wood burning system when we are not here. I know there are wood pellets BUT living less than 2 km from a large wood yard it is cheaper and easier for us to use wood from a local source. We will look at any system that seems effective for us. We are running the pipes as we renovate so the debate is still open. The plumber is organised and also prefers sustainable systems.

The fact that most French artisans have full books for a couple of years ahead is very good for the area we live in. It is rural and also supposed to be one of the 'deprived' areas in France. New houses are being built for the French and also some younger French are renovating old decrepit buildings - bit like the Brits really. We have to get this build done and if we cannot get someone to build this door in wood, we will have to go with the alternatives. It has to be somewhere we can afford and also somewhere fished so we can live in it.

Was -9 last night and not much more today - the apartment is very warm with the log-burner. The more we think about it the more we are sure that this is where we will spend the cold part of the winters. I really do not see any point in heating a huge space and paying all that money out for heating when we can be cosier and warm with less effort.

Ho hum, John has just found a problem with a leaking cold water pipe, not leaking much but I hope that all those with holiday homes are well insulated etc.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

{template="widgetContainer" group="global" app="core" params="'footer', 'horizontal'"https://www.frenchentree.com/}
×
×
  • Create New...