JSHarris

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JSHarris last won the day on May 17

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About JSHarris

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  • About Me
    Retired scientist, made the decision to build our own home a few years before retirement, then had the good fortune to be able to retire early and start the self-build journey. Started our build in late 2013, took far longer than anticipated to finish, but have now moved in and we are enjoying having a house with no bills at all (except for the blasted Council Tax...). The house pays us a modest income from the excess energy we generate, over and above the energy we use for heating, cooling, cooking, hot water etc, so we now have a healthy retirement holiday fund.
  • Location
    Wiltshire/Dorset Border

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  1. JSHarris

    Automation Planning

    I've been tempted to fit separate IR illuminators, as a way to try and reduce the spider problem. I've also stopped using motion detection in the camera system and installed a separate system that uses microwave doppler sensors and an RF link to switch the DVR on. That seems to work very reliably, but will still get triggered by anything the size of a cat or bigger (funny thing is that large ducks don't trigger it, but even a small cat will).
  2. JSHarris

    smart meters

    Energy monitoring is definitely one of the most useful things we've had for the past few years. There's no substitute for being able to see just how much you're using at any time as a way of making us think about when to turn things on or off. We shifted a lot of our consumption to the E7 off-peak period in January/February this year, and that's had a significant impact on our bill. The curious thing for us is that we're not seeing a major drop in the bill now that we're not using any heating at all. It seems that hot water, car charging and other loads dominate our bill. In particular, we've had a few days in the past month where we've had the air cooling running in the evening, after the PV system has pretty much stopped generating, and that seems to cost more to run than the heating did during the winter, mainly because we can't easily shift it to the off-peak period. Need to get a battery system installed to be able to reduce the peak rate usage, I think.
  3. JSHarris

    smart meters

    Don't seem to be for us. The initial monthly DD was estimated to be £48.52 and I had a statement this morning telling me that our account is currently £103.35 in credit and that we used £43.53 in the last month, and that includes running my car.
  4. JSHarris

    smart meters

    We've been with British Gas, SSE, Iresa, Octopus and Bulb in recent years. All have been equally incompetent when it comes to running the IT side of their business. Octopus were perhaps the worst, with SSE coming a close second. Bulb are not too bad, their systems looks OK but they made really major billing errors on our first bill, charging us far more than we'd used, using a tariff that charged the same unit price for both peak and off-peak at rates that didn't match any of their advertised tariffs. They did sort things out very quickly, though, and have since been OK. None of them inspire confidence, least of all SSE, who took three years to sort of a range of billing errors, even after they had admitted that the problem was their end. As soon as SSE sorted out their problems we switched supplier, as frankly I just couldn't face having to deal with SSE any more. Worst in terms of general customer service was a close run thing between British Gas and Octopus, but the latter get my vote for being the worst mainly because of all the "love and peace" hippy crap and their refusal to use a proper form of address to customers.
  5. JSHarris

    My Solar quote

    Yes, we do have an air-to-air heat pump in the MVHR, as well as floor cooling using the UFH and its ASHP in cooling mode. Today it was the MVHR cooling that was on, as the floor cooling has a much slower response, and tends to only be used when we have long periods of warm weather.
  6. JSHarris

    Spray PUR foam. Why isn't it popular?

    It's certainly good for sound absorption. We have dry-blown cellulose and it seems to be exceptionally good at both soundproofing and reducing reverberation, something that quite surprised me, as I expected the plasterboard to pretty much remove any effect that the cellulose would have on that.
  7. JSHarris

    My Solar quote

    You can still have views, but you can significantly reduce the solar gain coming in through the glass. We've done this retrospectively, and it's been far less effective and cost more money than it would have done if I'd realised the scale of the problem and designed it out by specifying a better glazing solution. The main issue is that active cooling is relatively slow to respond, as by the time it turns on there is already a fair bit of heat energy stored in the house. The consequence of this is that the active cooling needs to continue to run for a time after the PV system has stopped generating an excess. Again, by coincidence, we have this situation right now - PV generation has dropped yet the cooling is still running, and probably will for another hour or two. I'm glad I opted to install cooling, but have repeatedly kicked myself for not having invested more in the relatively large area of glass we have.
  8. JSHarris

    Having an air test next week, any tips?

    Same here, the results were up on the tester's laptop screen, the pressurisation, depressurisation and average plots were displayed as a graph.
  9. JSHarris

    My Solar quote

    It's what we do, in fact it's running now as I type this, and is being powered by the excess PV generation. Far better to try and prevent the heat getting in in the first place though, as it takes time to cool things down.
  10. JSHarris

    Spray PUR foam. Why isn't it popular?

    FWIW, I don't think that "wet" sprayed cellulose is used much here in the UK. Dry, pressure blown, cellulose seems to be reasonably wide spread, though.
  11. JSHarris

    Spray PUR foam. Why isn't it popular?

    The stuff dries out in a day or so, ends up being a solid block much the same as the pressure-blown dry fill cellulose, but doesn't need the pressure blower and is quicker to install as it doesn't need holes to be cut in an inner skin, that later have to be covered over.
  12. JSHarris

    Spray PUR foam. Why isn't it popular?

    It works fine, and is well-proven:
  13. JSHarris

    Having an air test next week, any tips?

    I found joss sticks worked OK when I was tracking down air leaks in our old house. The smell did result in me being asked a few searching questions about what I'd been doing, though...
  14. JSHarris

    Automation Planning

    There's a lot to be said for running separate switched radials, from a single central location, as an electrical installation topology. It allows for anything from dumb switching with conventional switches, to any one of many possible automation systems, either giving full or part control. It also allows an easy future upgrade path, with minimal disruption to the decor etc, as pretty much any future changes would be made at one central location. By the same token, I've long felt that the UK should get rid of its obsession with ring finals, and return to the radial system used pretty much everywhere else in the world.
  15. JSHarris

    Negotiating Price of Windows

    Looks pretty good to me, around the same as we paid for 3G aluclad timber more than 5 years ago.