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Family who built eco-friendly house making money on their energy bill; Lindsay Berresford and her partner David French receive a Renewable Heat Incentive grant from the Government which pays their energy bills for them.

Byline: Danny Thompson

A green couple built their own eco-house for [pounds sterling]230K - and say they now have an energy bill of MINUS [pounds sterling]150 a month.

Lindsay Berresford, 34, and her partner David French, 38, receive a Renewable Heat Incentive grant from the Government which pays their energy bills for them, they say.

The two quarterly payments from the grant are based on the energy bill estimates for their incredible, four-bedroom eco home, and the couple claim they save almost [pounds sterling]1,500 each year.

The home, in Easton, Bristol, uses solar panels, which Lindsay and David claim heat their water for at least six months of the year.

And in winter, their home is warmed by a biomass pellet boiler, in which wood pellets release gases that burn with higher efficiency and lower fossil fuels.

"We spent a lot of money on this house, but with the government grant, we have more money coming in than going out," said David.

Lindsay and David's amazing, [pounds sterling]230,000 project took four years to complete - during which time Lindsay gave birth to her son, now six, and discovered she was pregnant with twins, now four, on moving-in day.

The mum-of-three said: "I always knew that it was David's dream to build his own house - ever since he was about eight years old when he built himself a little cabin in the woods.

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"The idea we could build the kind of house we actually wanted to live in, start from scratch and not use much energy seemed pretty ideal.

"We wanted to be sustainable but to make it easier for ourselves to do so at the same time."

And David added: "There's a misconception that it's difficult if you want to build your own home.

"It's quite easy to get permission if you want to build a house within the city - the council wanted us to build this home."

The couple, who run campervan business Quirky Campers, bought a plot of land in Easton in 2011, and teamed up with Michael Drake Architects to design the home they have always wanted.

David said: "The architect we chose was aligned with our goals in terms of making it low energy but high performance.

"We had a really good working relationship and he had the same vision as us. It was very much a joint process."

The couple tried to be as eco-friendly as possible with their materials when building the house, starting with the foundations.

Lindsay said: "We used pile foundations rather than trench, which means we used a lot less concrete.

"I think we used little to no plastic at all in the materials we needed to build the house.

"We have hempline plaster rather than plasterboard, and our insulation uses blown cellulotes.

"The house is so insulated it's basically airtight. It mostly keeps itself warm," she added.

And she said: "We have a rainwater system to flush the toilets - the rainwater gathers on the roof and then down through the gutters into a filtration tank underground."

As construction got under way, Lindsay and David sold their flat in Horfield to help pay for the costly build.

This meant the couple, who had one child at the time, lived in a Portakabin next to the temporary construction site for three years.

"I know from experience that work stops as soon as you move in. Building around kids and life is much more challenging - it's just not a building site," said David.

Finally, after years of waiting and watching their dream home take shape, the couple moved in June 2015.

However, their moving in day ended up being much more eventful than planned.

David said: "We had a scan on the same day and found out Lindsay was pregnant with twins. It was a crazy time".

And now that the family are settled in their dream home, Lindsay says they often receive visitors who are keen to find out more about their eco home.

"We have a lot of people who ring the doorbell and say they saw the house coming up and then ask if they can have a look round," she said.

"There's many people who would like to build their own home and are inspired by stuff like the pellet boiler. A lot of people are really supportive."

Elsewhere in their lives, Lindsay says the family make as many efforts as they can to stay environmentally conscious.

She said: "We don't own a car - we have an electric cargo bike instead, which has space for all of our three kids, plus two other young kids if we're doing playdates.

"The main change I've made is when it comes to clothes shopping - I almost exclusively buy second-hand clothes now. I've become a bit of an eBay professional.

"Buying new clothes has such a massive effect on the environment," she said.

"We've had glass milk bottles rather than plastic for about ten years now, and I try to buy groceries plastic-free as much as possible - although this can be hard, with three young kids," she added

CAPTION(S):

Lindsay and her partner David receive a Renewable Heat Incentive grant from the Government which pays their energy bills for them they say.

Lindsay David in their eco home in Bristol

The home, in Easton, Bristol, uses solar panels, which Lindsay and David claim heat their water for at least six months of the year.

The couple built their own eco-house for 230K - and say they now have an energy bill of MINUS [pounds sterling]150 a month.

The home, in Easton, Bristol, uses solar panels, which Lindsay and David claim heat their water for at least six months of the year.
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Author:Danny Thompson
Publication:Get Reading (Reading, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 24, 2020
Words:975
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