Over twenty Monmouthshire properties will publicly promote environmentally-friendly methods of living which also save money at an event to be held across the county next month. Sustainability group Monmouthshire Community Climate Champions will hold its fourth Eco Open Doors Weekend event on the weekend of 12th/13th September demonstrating how to make the most of renewable energy, energy saving and sustainable living.
Monmouthshire County Council’s cabinet member for sustainability, Councillor Phil Hobson commented: “Eco Open Doors is organised by Monmouthshire Community Climate Champions, a partnership including the council and local transition town groups. Its aim is to help people find out how to reduce their energy use. Visitors will be able to chat to homeowners about how features work, what they cost and what they are saving, to help decide whether it would be suitable for their own home.”
Visitors to previous Eco Open Doors events have found them invaluable, with comments ranging from: “great to see these technologies in action” and “very interesting and inspiring” to “extremely interesting, informative and very impressive”. Details can be accessed at www.monecoopendoors.org.uk where features include solar power, hydropower, wind power, biomass, insulation, rainwater harvesting and organic gardens.
The 22 properties are situated across the county and include the former Forestry Commission house, Nant y Bedd at Fforest Coal Pit in the Black Mountains. Nant y Bedd has a micro hydro scheme to generate electricity from a small stream, a wood burning stove, solar hot water and a beautiful and productive organic garden which also features a natural swimming pond.
Many farmers such as Alan Williams of Hendre Glyn Farm in Upper Llanover have benefited from the Renewable Heat Incentive. As well as a hydropower scheme, visitors can see how he uses wood from his farm in biomass log boilers which generate heat and dry logs for sale.
In contrast, Llandegfedd Reservoir’s new visitor centre features sustainable cedar cladding and an air source heat pump. Visitors can also learn about the water cycle and water treatment as well as enjoy a snack in the café.
TV personality Kate Humble’s farm and rural skills centre in Penallt will also participate in Eco Open Doors this year. Visitors to the Humble By Nature site can learn about its aquaponics solar greenhouse built last year. The structure combines aquaculture (fish farming) with hydroponics (growing plants in water rather than soil) to create a hugely productive farming system. Other eco features will attract attention, together with a café and adventure playground.
The newly-built eco property, Holmbrook in Llandogo, is made of SIPS (Structural Insulated Panels) with extra internal wall insulation. This, together with heat recovery, means that no heating is needed upstairs. Solar panels provide hot water and electricity, toilets and the washing machine are filled with rainwater and there is a wood pellet stove.
In contrast, Ingleside in Penallt is a 19th century cottage where visitors can learn about wood processing and biomass. The cottage has a biomass boiler, wood fired cooker, woodworking workshop and saw bench, with a charcoal kiln and solar wood drying unit. When woodlands are well-managed and replanted, wood is a great renewable energy source.
The headline sponsor for this year’s Eco Open Doors event is Gwent Energy, a community interest company which installs solar panels in many locations, particularly on community buildings. Support has also come from local architect Simon Brown, FWT Ltd and the Green Open Homes network.