Friday, 24 April 2015

First stage of becoming green

As I have said, when we bought this property it was liveable but derelict. Once we had the staircase in and knocked down the downstairs bedroom walls we put in a heat exchanger. This provides our hot  water via solar tubes. We put the tank under the stairs and planned to build a cloakroom around it       ( this we have now done). There is a small electric pump to move the water around. This works very well and has an immersion heater for when it has been cloudy all day. The solar tubes give us loads of hot water virtually free! At the same time we installed a wood burning Esse into the enormous fireplace it what is now the kitchen. It took a while to get used to this but now I would hate to use a conventional oven. There was an enclosed fireplace it what was the salle de vie but is now a lounge/ diner. We removed the pink concrete case and found a lovely granite fireplace beneath. We have a face carved into the stone on one side. We built a stone plinth, topped it with flagstones and installed an efficient cast iron wood burner. The oven and the fire are our only heat. With the downstairs still un insulated it gets very cold in winter.
Sadly we are not self sufficient for wood so buy it from a neighbor farmer. It feels expensive but is far cheaper than our fuel bills for our modern house in the UK.
We then looked at the sanitation. The single toilet emptied into a concrete tank at the back of the house that our farmer neighbour emptied to fertilise his land! Everything else dumped in the field below us. I often saw my bubble bath floating in the breeze! This could not continue so we started our search. We found a thing called a micro station that we really wanted so went to talk to our maire. He advised us to install it straight away as he approved of the system and was currently the inspector of the fosse septic. We had to use a firm in the village and had to go with the brand they wanted. This was not a problem for us. Our garden looked like the somme for a week! Whilst the digger was on site they dug me a pond! Our microstation  needs no chemicals and works from natural bacteria being pumped through three very big chambers. What comes out of the end is clean water that is piped into a nearby stream. It is currently emptied about every three years but will need doing more often when the gites are all occupied. We now have to get a certificate for official emptying and another for official disposal that the contractor gets. This has to be kept on file for our next inspection! The French love paperwork.
So that was the beginning of becoming green, done our first year here in 2010.

1 comment:

  1. Good job of recycling the waste water. I'm trying to visualize your efforts listed here. Are you planning to add photos to your blog? On to reading more now....