I'm living in a Victorian cottage in Snowdonia
- with just coal fires for heating, and the coldest weekend for at least a year is coming up. Behind the house the hills are topped with white, and there's a freezing east wind blowing, promising snow overnight or tomorrow. At the moment I'm barricaded into the one room, the parlour, which is a box of heat thanks to a constantly-tended coal fire. When I go out of this room, into the kitchen say, the temperature drops a good (or a bad) 10 degrees.
The place is really more or less how it would have been in 1900, apart from an indoor bathroom and toilet installed in the 1990s, and broadband and phone of course. But a change is on the way! My plan is to leapfrog into the 21st Century and turn my house into an Eco-home, with solar panels to generate electricity, air source pumps to power central heating, and cladding on the outside of the solid stone walls to keep all the warmth in. The trick is going to accomplish all this while keeping the period character of the house, with its original fireplaces and kitchen range, its quarry tiled floors and exposed beams. (I'm not sure about keeping the Belfast sink in the kitchen though. Even if it does have antique taps.)
I'm doing this partly to make my house more liveable in, as you might expect, but I've chosen the 'greenest' forms of heating and power out of an interest in sustainability and a wish to have a lower carbon footprint. I'm not a green evangelist, but it would be good to feel I'm living a bit more in tune with the planet. End of pompous statement!
I'm going to blog this whole process, and photograph it, so follow along with me if you're interested in someone transforming an old house into one for the new Century. I'll include some technical / DIY type stuff, but not to excess : it's going to be more about the ups and downs of it all ...wish me luck...