The Hollies Centre for Practical Sustainability, Enniskeane, W. Cork
The Hollies Centre is 25 acres of gardens, woodland and lake with several self-build dwellings and multi-use buildings set in picturesque West Cork. It’s a charity with a focus on dissemination of sustainability skills through short courses and volunteer-ships. Its remit is broad and ambitious; to showcase the potential of a sustainable society. It’s methodology; to provide working examples of low carbon building, renewable energy, sustainable economics and community development.
Throughout the growing season it hosts volunteers working in the organic, no chemical market garden and at any time through the year it runs short courses and events in celebration of the seasons, connecting with animals and nature, re-wilding and foraging as well as timber and cob building.
The fruits of these can be seen all around the site in the neat rows of vegetables striping the freshly hand-weeded earth, the bunches of garlic set to dry in the cob potting shed and the perfectly, imperfect looking buildings dotted about the landscape. As R. Buckminster Fuller, futurist and inventor of the geodesic dome once said “there are no straight lines” or perfect circles in nature.
John and Selvi, the caretakers of the land, started to hand sculpt their own house on the site in 2013. It was early 2019, 6 years later that the house had developed into the home they imagined. Working with nature, the earth under their feet, the seasons and their own hands and feet, like something from the enchanted forest, it was as if the house grew organically around them. They then consulted with Future Generation Energy and in keeping with their low carbon lifestyle they chose to install a thermodynamic hot water system. This consists of one panel on the roof and a cylinder inside the house and is perfect for a busy household with limited space.
On a sunny July day, I went to visit them to see how the system is working out for them. The house is quaint, set amongst native ferns; it has an irregular, roundish shape. Inside, the first thing you notice is how cosy and bright it is, then the quality of air. Good design and quality building materials make this a really comfortable house. It was just after lunch and they and volunteers were clearing the table and washing up.
I asked John how they rated their hot water system. “It’s working brilliant. As you can see we have a busy house with us and volunteers. There could be 4 or 5 showers a day and 2 or 3 wash ups going on.” Their previous system, in the last house, was a gas boiler. They felt it was “never really hot. This one, however, is always hot at around 55 degrees.”
With so much work to do on site, managing the garden and woodlands, a low maintenance system is ideal. I asked about operation and maintenance of the system. “It’s automatic really. We don’t need to do anything and it disinfects automatically too.”
“Installation was grand too; Liam worked around our building process”
And their energy bills? “Hardly noticeable!”
Finally; Would they recommend Future Generation Energy to friends and acquaintances?
“Oh yes. I’ve have been already, I’ve been recommending Future Generation Energy to everyone!”
You can visit The Hollies Centre by appointment or attend one of their courses or events throughout the year. For more information: https://www.thehollies.ie/
Ilenroy B&B in Skibbereen, West Cork
“Crippling” Energy Bills
Breda and Ronnie Tanner, proprietors of the Ilenroy B&B in Skibbereen came to Future Generation Energy looking for a holistic answer to their energy problems. They were using night-time storage heaters for space and water heating. Not only was the system not providing enough hot water but their electricity bills were astronomical at approximately €30 per night. “It was crippling. We’d heat 3 tanks of water overnight and by the time people checked in at 4pm there was no hot water for showers.” said Breda of the problem. They also had a very high level of humidity in the kitchen due to the steam iron being used there for the laundry services. “The kitchen used to be totally fogged up when we were using the steam iron, you couldn’t see through the windows.” They wanted to increase their energy efficiency to cut costs and to reduce their carbon footprint.
A Bespoke Solution
After a thorough survey of their property and energy requirements 3 main needs were identified; space heating for the office, dining room, living room, landing/hall and kitchen, cooling and dehumidifying for the kitchen and hot water for the bedrooms. A bespoke system would have to be designed to meet these requirements.
The system that was agreed upon was a mixed media solution using air source heat pumps mounted on the outside back wall and a thermodynamic panel on the roof to heat the water cylinders.
AIRSOURCE HEAT PUMPS
A combination of slim line floor radiators and wall mounted cassettes would deliver heating, cooling and dehumidifying action to the relevant rooms, as well as a ceiling mounted infrared panel for the office reception area.
One Tenth of the Running Cost of the Previous System!
“I can’t understand how 10 people can have a shower and there’s still hot water!”
We went back to visit Breda and Ronnie 5 weeks after installation. I asked them if their energy problems had been solved by the new system. Although they hadn’t received an electricity bill yet to compare costs, they had been monitoring the consumption closely. What had been costing them €30 per night was down to €2 to €3 per night and they estimate that at that rate system would pay for itself within 2 – 3 years. “One night we left all the heating on and forgot to turn it off overnight and it only racked up €3.50.” said Breda. About the hot water requirements, she said “10 people could have a shower in the morning and it doesn’t run out. Its endless hot water and the showers are perfect temperature. I can’t understand how 10 people can have a shower and there’s still hot water!”
And what about the space heating/cooling? They noticed how quickly the space heats, within 10 minutes it’s comfortable and of the humidity in the kitchen “Now it’s totally clear. There’s no steam on the windows.”
They’re looking forward to receiving their adjusted electricity bill for confirmation and so they can really see their savings come in. In the meantime they say they are very happy customers and would “100% recommend” Future Generation Energy to their friends for providing the right solution, and for their respectful manner and polished finish.
Kanturk, Co Cork 11kW Solar PV
Recently a dairy farm in Kanturk, Co Cork upgraded to include renewable energy sources. Future Generation Energy installed an 11kW Solar PV System on the site to reduce their carbon footprint and related energy costs.
West Cork, 4kW PV system with 4.5kW battery storage
Save 50 – 80% on your home energy bills with a Solar PV System like this one we recently installed in West Cork.
This is 4kW PV system with 4.5kW battery storage, making the homeowner eligible for the maximum grant of €3,800
6kW Solar PV System, 6kWh battery
6kW Solar PV System installation on flat roof and pitch roof with 6kWh battery with maximum grant reimbursement of €3,800
Cork City, 3 Apartments
Increased comfort, reduced emissions and cheaper heating bills! 3 nice, tidy air to water heat pumps just fitted in the city.
These are perfect for well-insulated city apartments and eligible for SEAI grants too.