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An ordinary 1970s mid-terrace house in North Dorset has been transformed into an award-winning energy-saving eco abode that is attracting interest from across the region.
Wessex Renewable Energy, part of the Shaftesbury-based Wessex Group, totally overhauled the property in Bourton near Gillingham. In fact, the transformation was so successful the house now has an astonishingly high Energy Performance Certificate rating of 97 out of 100.

Dan Toop, 61, who bought the property over a year ago, wanted a sustainable solution to his power, heating and lighting needs. Wessex Renewable Energy installed solar thermal panels to provide hot water, solar PV panels for electricity and underfloor heating over three storeys.

Heating is provided by a highly efficient air source hear pump positioned outside the property. Illumination comes from 68, low wattage LED lights that work for up to 100,000 hours before they need replacing, and also a mirrored tube to guide daylight inside.

This efficiency has led to weekly bills for all household electricity being as low as £6.20; this takes into account an annual income of about £1,000 from the feed-in tariff and the renewable heat incentive (RHIs).
The outlay for the eco installation will have been paid off in approximately five-and-a-half years, leaving only minuscule electricity bills.

The work led to the house winning the Best Sustainability Project in the North Dorset District Council Building Excellence Awards. It was also shortlisted for the South West regional awards.

Mr Toop, a professional driver, said: “When I bought the house there was really nothing in it so it could be designed from scratch. I wanted something that would have very low running costs and something that would save money in the future. It will also retain a good re-sale value.

“The underfloor heating means there are no radiators and it is a far more efficient system than traditional central heating. It works by heating the water beneath the floors to 35 degrees, as opposed to radiators that require 65 degrees. It is a much better system because heat rises from the floor”.

“There is also an air source heat pump that during the day can be run from the power provided by the solar panels. I chose Wessex because I have used them before and knew what they could do. It’s been so successful that lots of people have asked to come and look around, and later in the summer I’ve got a mini-bus from Wiltshire coming to visit. Word has really spread.”

Thomas Mortimer, General Manager of Wessex Renewable Energy, said: “Our instructions were that everything was to be hidden. The air source heat pump is situated outside the rear of the house and the internal parts of the system were concealed in a cupboard beneath the stairs. There are 14 PV solar panels on the roof and a single solar thermal panel to heat the water.

“Home-owners can take advantage of feed-in tariffs and renewable heat incentives that are designed to encourage investment in greener technologies.We are also extremely proud that the Energy Performance Certificate has a figure of 97. I have never come across a figure anywhere near as high for a comparable property – even new-builds are usually not that high”

“We were able to bring in the expertise of Wessex Electricals and Wessex HVAC & Plumbing to assist with the wiring and plumbing. Working with our sister companies made the whole process much easier. We’re delighted that the property has won an award and was put through to the regional finals.”

Picture: Thomas Mortimer and Mr Toop

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Longmead Industrial Estate,
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Shaftesbury,
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