Is this Cornwall’s greenest home?

Jill and Ian Birch with their biomass boiler
Jill and Ian Birch with their biomass boiler

While many of us worry about the cost of turning the heating on in the winter, one Cornish couple are turning a profit from having theirs on after making their Illogan property a beacon of energy efficiency with help from energy efficiency expert, Happy Energy.

By their own admission, Jill and Ian Birch had never previously harboured ambitions to be energy efficiency champions, but once they started, by having 12 solar panels placed on their roof in October 2012, their interest in saving money and energy began to heat up.

Two years on and the couple have had cavity wall and loft insulation fitted, had new double glazed windows fitted, have installed an Immersun which routes surplus power from the solar panels to run their hot water, have installed LED lighting and have just had a biomass boiler fitted, which burns wood pellets to power the heating and hot water.

The result is not only a reduction in their energy bills of over 50%, saving the couple hundreds of pounds a year, but with the Government payments from having solar panels and the biomass boiler installed, the couple are being paid more money for the renewable energy they are producing than it is costing them to buy the wood pellets and electricity needed to fuel their home.

Jill and Ian Birch outside their renewables-powered home
Jill and Ian Birch outside their renewables-powered home

Ian Birch explained: “It all started when my brother came around one afternoon and convinced me to have solar panels fitted on the roof. Not only were we generating our own electricity but we were getting paid for it and we went from there, looking at other ways to save money and working with Adrian and the team at Happy Energy to have other works done.”

According to Adrian Wright of Cornish energy efficiency specialist, Happy Energy, Ian and Jill could be living in Cornwall’s most energy efficient home.

“Jill and Ian have really embraced energy efficiency and are now in a fantastic positive energy position where not only have their energy bills been massively reduced but the payments they receive from the solar panels and will receive from the biomass boiler means they are making money.

“Is Jill and Ian’s property the most energy efficient in Cornwall? Considering it’s a small bungalow that was built decades ago before energy efficiency was considered as part of the fabric of a build, I imagine it would be hard to find another that is more so.”


  1. There’s a lt of negative talk out there about renewables at present. Especially with the cost of oil down at the moment. So it’s nice to see that real people are actually benefiting from the installation of renewables. It just goes to show that with a little thought and the installation of the correct measures to suit the property it is possible to benefit from energy production.

    Well done.

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