Wood for warmth in the home

On of our volunteers preparing the manure hotbeds

Living in a secluded Grade II listed house on the spectacular Acorn Bank estate in Cumbria may sound like a dream come true, but keeping a place like that warm can often lead to hefty energy bills and environmental costs.

Chris and Sara Braithwaite, who work and live together at Acorn Bank’s eighteenth century Miller’s House with their cat, two dogs and pair of sleepy tortoises, know this only too well. Last year, they finally took the plunge and swapped a coke guzzling rayburn for a cosy wood fired boiler at their home – and they haven’t looked back since.

Benefits of biomass

Gardener in charge, Chris, said they made the decision to install the greener energy system after seeing the benefits of a larger biomass boiler which was installed at the estate in 2014.

“For us it was just really confirmation that the system would work well,” Chris said. “The wood boiler is much easier to use, is less expensive in carbon and heats the house more effectively than the solid fuel rayburn we had before.”

The first green step is the hardest

Chris said: “The first step is often the hardest to do, but once you’ve started you want to keep going forward rather than just resting on your laurels.

“We’ve also installed a wood burning stove in our front room and we have been thinking seriously about making some thermally lined curtains to keep the heat in,” he said. “And what we need to do now is look at the rest of the house and how it works.”

Natural tips for gardening out of season

As a gardener, Chris has also been putting his greener hands to good use by building manure hot beds. Made from tightly packed horse manure covered in a cloche, these heaps enable Chris and his team to grow salad crops out of season in a natural way.

“We are trying to be greener across the estate here,” said Chris. “People could build hot beds in their gardens at home too if they can get their hands on horse manure – of course, that’s if they’ve got a willingness to mess about with a pile of fresh muck.”

Thinking of taking your first green step?

Take a look at our energy saving advice tips.

Read our energy saving advice tips in Love your home: Energy advice to help protect your own special place (PDF / 0,4MB) download

A variety of differently shaped energy efficient light bulbs ready to be installed

What you can do 

Find out what you can do to go green in your own home and garden, by saving water and making thermal curtains. Learn how we are working towards generating 50 per cent of our energy from renewable sources by 2020.