A FAMILY who risked it all to move from their comfortable family home in Ebbw Vale to a sustainable one near Blackwood have said the risk has paid off- literally.

Arthur Davies, his wife Sue and their daughter Bronwen moved to live at the award winning Maes Yr Onn Farm, in July last year- the first totally sustainable property of its kind in the county borough.

The farmhouse features a number of sustainable technologies including photovoltaic panels, rainwater harvesting, a biomass boiler and thermal stores and innovative skirting board heating.

Since the move the family have managed to exceed expectations of their energy usage after using only renewable technologies throughout their first winter.

Arthur Davies said: ““We are very snug in our new home.

“It’s comfortable, warm and all of the technologies are doing brilliantly so that we haven’t lost any quality of life.

“It’s amazing”

The off-grid nature of the farmhouse means that the family must be aware of how much energy they are producing and using with electrical appliances and of how much water they use.

Since July last year the family have been consuming just 173 litres of water a day, compared with the standard average for a family of three at 303 litres per day.

The farm generates its own electricity through photovoltaic panels on the roof.

Original reports suggested that the electrical energy used at the farm would be around 7 kWh per day. On average the panels generate 6.4 kWh per day of which the family are using on average 1.4 kWh.

Cllr Ken James, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Planning and Sustainable Development, said, “It has been important for us to follow the progress of the family as they settled into life in their new home, to discover best practice and learn from mistakes.

“The figures say it all however; it is possible to live sustainably using renewable energy solutions without drastically altering your lifestyle.”

Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Rural Development Plan Sustainable Energy Team saw an opportunity to help make the family’s dream of living in a completely off-the-grid location become a reality and developed partnerships with the Building Research Establishment and SSE, to design and build a sustainable, modern farmhouse and family home.

An energy monitoring scheme by Constructing Excellence in Wales and the RDP team is in place and is intended to help the family to live as sustainably as possible and to learn best practice for future projects.