Fourteen years ago, I became terrified by the rising price of natural gas in the UK. The costs associated with central heating were getting to be unaffordable, and, anyway, the house was never that warm. I had a look around and decided I would install a multifuel stove in the front room. The model was Dunsley Yorkshire, a 14KW, defra approved, 140kg, cast iron and steel monster. The day I lit my first fire, I knew I’d made a good decision. My front room and middle room are “knocked through”, so it’s basically one large room with a kitchen at the back. Using a wall mounted fan, the heat from the stove can be distributed and the whole ground floor becomes very warm. Also, the chimney breast carries heat to the main bedroom upstairs and heat is trapped there due to a double layer of lagging in the loft above.
For the past fourteen years, I’ve collected old pallets and broken them down for firewood for the Winter months. To distribute heat more evenly, I made a contraption that draws heat off the ceiling and blows it into the hallway, from where the heat rises to the upper floors. I saw a few YouTube videos describing how to make this from a length of piping and an inline fan, and it works very well. I also made a hole in the ceiling above the middle bedroom and installed a simple extraction fan so that heat is blown into the room from the floor below. A small 500 watt electric heater in the upstairs bathroom completes my setup.
So, I have no gas in the house and I had the meter removed when standing charges were introduced. I had my electric supplied by a company called Symbio, which went bust last year. I was paying 10p per KWh with them and was then moved to Eon who charged me 19p per KWh. The price moved in April this year to 29p per KWh and will rise again in October to 50p per KWh, so, like millions of others, I’m not that impressed with electricity prices at all. I’ve taken action to mitigate my circumstances by getting rid of my electric cooker and replacing with an LPG cooker (propane). I also used to heat water for showers and washing up, with a 3KW immersion heater, and I’ve now replaced that with a small LPG water heater. I’ve been playing around with solar panels, charge controllers and batteries, but I can’t afford the many thousands it would take to get “off grid” with solar, wind and batteries.
So, as someone stated in a tweet yesterday, I’m “lucky”. To be honest, I am lucky that my wife hounded me to buy our own home, but the things I’ve done to reduce my outgoings have been well planned and I’ve had to spend cash that I couldn’t really afford to get into my “lucky” position. I do wish the UK Government would de-centralise energy provision though. I would be more than happy if the Government offered a large subsidy to get solar panels, domestic wind turbines and batteries. I’ve applied for stuff in the past, but they want me to remove my multifuel stove before they will consider me worthy. Bit strange seeing as how the UK Government are quite happy to pay Drax £billions to burn wood, but flatly refuse to recognise that option in domestic settings. They’re quite happy to subsidise heatpumps though, heatpumps that use 3KW of power for around 6 hours a day in the Winter months. At 60p per KWh that’s around £11 a day to run an air source heatpump, a load that will place even more strain on the “grid”. To be honest, if anyone asked my advice, I would tell them to forget Government help, you’re on your own, so get on with it. Good luck!