Ann Link lives in a 1950s chalet-style semi detached house in Lewes. Her extensive retrofitting has been inspirational to other would-be domestic sustainable developers and she is an active member of Transition Town Lewes.
Ann says: “I wanted to make big reductions in the carbon impact of our house, and couldn’t until we moved to Lewes. I wanted a plainer, more modern house also – the appearance is important. Moving to a smaller 1950s house enabled this. I want to make changes to prepare for peak oil and reduce climate change. I felt I had waited so long, and so wanted to do the maximum we could.”
The work on her house has taken around five years, although Ann has been active in environmental work for four times as long. Her overarching philosophy is to seek a balance between enjoying life and doing what seems logically required.
She says: “I don’t feel at all right if I sense my activity is seen as nagging, or if anyone feels guilty. I think we just have to be examples of getting on and doing things, and say why when asked.”
Energy saving measures in her house includes extensive insulating, glazing and draught proofing as well as a solar hot water and photovoltaic system, and the ultimate aim is to be zero carbon.
The conservatory was made using locally coppiced chestnut, which will regrow quickly and provides a sturdy, beautiful building material. The conservatory – or sun space – also acts as a heat sink, passively warming the rest of the house.
A wood burning stove helps the solar panels heat the water supply, and a rainwater recycling system has been installed to conserve the precious liquid.
Renovations came in at around £100,000, but Ann is very aware this isn’t within reach of many people. The house is an example of what is possible and what could be normal in the future. She says: “Enjoy life now. Have a vision for a good future. Keeping that in mind is better than dreading a bad one.”