Somerset Green Homes: Juliet’s story

Juliet, Ben and their 3-year-old daughter live in their detached South Somerset home near Yeovil. The property was built in around 1970 and Juliet and Ben purchased it in 2014. In 2015 they had an extension built and used this as an opportunity to renovate the rest of the house and introduce renewable energy solutions.  

The property benefited from already having cavity wall insulation installed, along with a reasonable level of loft insulation. Juliet and Ben are very aware of environmental issues such as the climate crisis. When considering what works they should carry out to the property they were keen to add some renewable energy systems and use as many natural and sustainable materials as possible. 

They decided to try to reduce their reliance on their oil-fired boiler. The oil boiler was the sole method of heating the house and the water. In 2016 they had a 2x flat plate panel solar hot water system fitted. Later in the year, they installed a woodburning stove with back boiler and heat leak radiator in the hallway as a way of increasing renewable energy systems. Between these two systems, they only now very occasionally need to run the boiler in the summer to heat water as the solar thermal heats sufficient hot water for their needs.

In the winter months, the need for space heating and hot water from the boiler is greatly reduced thanks to the wood burner and back boiler. Ben is a gardener so has access to lots of free firewood, the tools to process it and they have space to store it so it is properly seasoned. 

Not everything went so smoothly. They had hoped that their installation would qualify for the Renewable Heat Incentive. However, the plumbers contracted by their project manager, it turns out, were not RHI registered. Juliet, now will now only use a company that they’ve had a personal recommendation for! 

‘We hadn’t done anything like this before and we learnt a lot of lessons the hard way so I hope we can share some of these with you in so you can have a better experience!’ 

Wanting to increase their use of renewable energy resources they chose to build timber frame extension with timber cladding. Coincidentally, they knew someone locally with a western red cedar tree that needed felling, so they had it sent to a local sawmill to process it into cladding. They are very pleased with how it is weathering. The off-cuts were then used for their window sills and mantelpiece. Sustainable and resourceful!  

They also chose to install bamboo flooring throughout the ground floor of the house. Although this wood flooring was from China, bamboo is considered renewable and is fast growing, and the product they used was FSC certified. 

Juliet took part in the first Somerset Green Open Homes webinars in June 2022, you can watch it below:

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