We’ve just spent our third Christmas at Old Holloway and perhaps it’s a good time to pause and reflect. The house is an absolute joy to live in. We have really become to appreciate just how consistently stable the internal environment is, no matter what time of year. Be it unseasonably hot or cold, sunny or overcast, windy or still outside, the house is like a cosy refuge we can always rely on. We are more aware of this when we return home after visiting friends or from holidays, we can really feel the difference. At this time of year, it’s wonderful to see the low winter sun rays penetrate the house right across the floor plan, lending the clay plasters a festive sparkle. What’s more, the low sun provides a really useful contribution to keeping the house warm, minimising the need to fire up the wood stove.
Sepaking of which, one mildly annoying thing about the stove is the occasional smoking, particularly during the initial ignition. Sometimes it’s quite tricky to get the fire going and it needs the door to be slightly ajar, resulting in smoke getting into the room for a short period of time before the flue ‘draw’ is established. This is not a huge deal as the smoke clears reasonably quickly via central ventilation system or by opening windows (!), but it’s definitely something we’d prefer not to experience. In hindsight, we’d probably not install the wood stove if we started with the build again – we have a beautiful air quality in the house so why make it worse with burning wood, even if it’s just a meter cubed of wood per heating season?
Energy wise we seem to have a fairly consistent electricity consumption of around 4450kWh per year, which is not bad for a 100m2 house. The hot water cyclinder with integrated air source heat pump has performed flawlessly so far, and the weekly consumption patterns over 2.5 years seems to show little or no loss of efficiency. The induction hob still has its little niggles, but we’re not missing the gas stove from our previous house. One thing we may look at in future is the extract from cooker hood. Our current hood with carbon filter is recirculating air, meaning there is still likely to be a high concentration of small PM2.5 particulates when frying or roasting. A direct extract to outside at the small expense of energy loss would help to keep the small particles to the minimum.
As usual in November, we welcomed over 20 visitors back in November as part of International Passivhaus open days. It was a drizzly, overcast day so the views out were limited, but the house was lovely & comfortable. It’s great to open and share the house with people who are researching their own passivhaus projects, there’s nothing like a first hand experience. I still remember visiting a few passivhaus homes before embarking on our own build, so this is a small way of ‘paying back’. It was encouraging to welcome a local green councillor who was interested to learn about the house, hopefully this will help raise awareness of genuine energy efficiency among more councillors.
On a more practical note, we’ll be building more storage for books, Joyce’s pottery and some old rediscovered vinyl records. And look forward to seeing the wildflower meadow on the workshop roof blossom in spring.