Dawn heralded a lovely crisp frosty morning here in Umbria, Italy, and it is on mornings like these that I am so grateful to have installed underfloor heating here at Bellaugello Gay Guest House.  I potter about preparing breakfasts on the cotto flooring with no shoes, not even socks, it is an utter delight, as is knowing that our heating here is provided by a mix of wood, wood pellets, and solar energy, as green as can be achieved.

Out in the annexe our big shiny red and silver “Gilles” wood and pellet boiler is quietly humming away, the fragrant smell of woodsmoke hanging delicately in the air.  It always surprises me for such a powerful beast of a boiler just how quiet it is and how slowly the smoke exits from the copper chimney, as if reluctant to leave the warmth of the boiler!  Above, on the roof the “Kloben” vacuum sealed Solar Panels are already heating up.  Yesterday the snow did not lift at all from the panels, they were covered all day but still somehow they managed in the glorious sunshine to heat up to 27º quite remarkable.

Our initial capital outlay may have been high (to me sometimes seemingly stratospherically high!) but the paybacks are good and it is really is rewarding to be able to heat the house and provide hot water in this sustainable manner.  Next year the wood that will be burnt will come from timber cut on the estate here at Bellaugello, with the solar panels helping augment winter heating, and for eight months of the year providing all our domestic hot water needs, the surplus in the summer being fed to the swimming pool, it is a big step on the way to self-sufficiency whilst providing luxurious state of the art facilities, and yes as I blog my feet are toasty warm…..

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