Halve your bills – buy a power station

Faced with having to give up her treasured family home of 21 years, a Cotswolds pensioner has come up with a thoroughly Green-and original-solution to the financial burden of running it, and has nearly halved her power bills. Christine Shine now owns and manages her own Ofgem-accredited renewable electricity plant, which powers not only her home, but others in the area.

The power station comprises a series of 390 photovoltaic panels, which cover an area roughly the size of two tennis courts and are concealed in the grounds of Mrs Shine’s Gloucestershire home. The construction sits only 60ft from the 19th-century manor house, but is discreetly hidden by a raised bank and housed in a purpose-built pit.

Using only daylight to generate renewable electricity, the panels produce enough power on even the shortest, greyest days to allow Mrs Shine to sell her surplus to Green Energy UK, which in turn puts it back into the National Grid. This will earn her about £12,000 after tax each year. In addition, Mrs Shine has insulated the entire seven-bedroom house with locally sourced wool and given it a coating of insulating paint, as well as installing special transparent blinds that eliminate draughts and retain heat. Even the swimming pool has turned eco-friendly, having been fitted with a geothermal heat pump, which will  warm the water using the only the core heat from the Earth.

Mrs Shine estimates that her usual £25,000 annual power bill will be reduced by 47%, with about £3,000 coming directly off her electricity bill. Far from having to sell up, as she feared, she is confident that the scheme will have paid for itself in just over a decade, after which it will make a profit. ‘I decided that, if I wanted to stay in my home, I would have to invest in technology that would put me at an advantage,’ she explains. Despite having used some of the equity in her home to pay for the improvements, Mrs Shine is delighted with her investment, asserting that she ‘never has to worry about the electricity bill and, even when it’s freezing, I only need the radiators to be on their lowest setting.’

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Doug Stewart, chief executive of Green Energy UK, is delighted. ‘You don’t need to have a home the size of Christine’s to make a difference, both to your pocket and the environment-this story demonstrates the potential sitting in our countryside to help really Green up the National Grid.’ Alice Cooke


Christine and panels