Green Policies

Right from the word go, we have determined to run Dowfold House as efficiently and with as little harm to the environment as possible. When we bought the house, we didn’t even know that the Green Tourism Business Scheme existed, but we have been very keen to join it so that the “green movement” is encouraged from both a domestic and business point of view.  We are continually looking to reduce our energy consumption, pollution generation and to improve our environmental habits/philosophy.

Here are some of the things we do. We know we could do more, and you can be sure we will, when we can.

Energy

  • As of July 2011, we are generating our OWN electricity from 16 photo-voltaic panels on our roof, with a nominal capacity of 3.76 KwH
  • We use an "iBoost" device, which diverts all solar-generated electricity into our hot water - which makes it free! (at least in summer)
  • Our mains electricity comes from Scottish & Southern Electricity under their Green Energy scheme.
  • All our light bulbs are energy saving ones, and we are progressively moving to LED equivalents - even lower power usage than CFLs
  • We have been totally rewired and try to run as much domestic machinery during the sunniest hours when we are gathering our own or at night on cheaper rate electricity. Time switches are used
  • We switch off as many lights and standbys as possible when not in use
  • Our chimneys and flues are swept once a year for maximum efficiency.
  • As of January 2015, we have installed a 35KwH wood-pellet boiler for home heating, under the Renewable Heat Initiative (RHI).  It's not been without its excitements, but all seems to be running smoothly now.
  • The pellets for the boiler are sourced from Scottish forests, and are delivered in bulk into our 6-tonne silo.  No more depending on "nice" Mr Putin - or the Arabs - for our fuel security
  • Every radiator has a thermostatic valve, and has a reflective foil backing liner.  We are progressively upgrading our older radiators for new convection-type examples
  • Hot water cylinders are lagged to the maximum capacity.
  • Our loft is well insulated.  An extra 10cm has been added in December 2010, making a total of 25 cm (10").  The new insulation is made of recycled glass bottles.  We have also constructed an insulated box over the loft hatch to prevent hot air escaping upwards
  • Small (0.8litre capacity) kettles are provided in guests’ rooms, so only just enough water for two cups is boiled at a time (It's also just enough to fill a hot-water bottle, which you'll find in all our rooms)
  • Flat-screen TVs have been installed in July 2010, and use far less electricity than the old CRT-based units
  • As electrical equipment is replaced, we are making sure that the new goods are A rated for efficiency.

Structural

  • In March 2010 we had “Holland” damp-proofing installed.  This is a system where ceramic devices are set into outside walls to dry them out using the principles of condensation. Dry walls equal warmer walls.  No chemicals are used in this method of damp-proofing
  • In early 2010 we had the drive resurfaced.  The grid containing the gravel is made from recycled plastic.

Recycling

  • We try to recycle as much as we can.   The council takes away glass, paper, cans and plastics. Guests are invited to recycle rubbish in the porch area between the stables and the side block of the house.
  • We are members of Freegle (where you offer unwanted stuff at no cost) and much of our unwanted “stuff” goes that way, or to a local charity shop
  • We compost all vegetable waste from the kitchen and garden.  Tea bags go on the compost heap and coffee grounds help deter slugs and snails from tender plants
  • Much of our printing is done on once used printed A4 sheets
  • We are gradually replacing old stock with recycled paper stock.

Water

  • We are gradually fitting more water butts, currently ten, but the capacity for 3 or 4 more is there!
  • Our larger WC cisterns have “hippos” or equivalent fitted, and we have converted all cisterns to dual-flush mechanisms  
  • We encourage guests to drink tap water from a carafe (re-filled each day, with the left-overs going to the garden) in their rooms rather than environmentally expensive bottled water.  

Produce

  •  We buy as much as we can from local suppliers and farms
  •  Much of our fruit is home grown, in season, and jam is mostly homemade. We even grow (some of) our own lemons!
  • We make all our biscuits for the guests' welcome tea or in the rooms
  •  Flowers and plants in the house are almost invariably home grown
  •  Our tea and coffee supplies come from Ringtons of Newcastle or are Fairtrade brands
  • Jill's green fingers grow so much that we operate a free plant stall, where guests - and others - can help themselves to a wide range of floribunda (we think that's the right word, but it sounds great anyway)
  • We now make our own bread (mostly in a machine – which uses very little electricity compared with a conventional oven) and we do use flour from Gilchester Organics, in Northumberland.  We hope you enjoy it
  • In March 2011 Dowfold House won the “Local Food Hero” award in the North Pennine Dales Love Food “Brilliant Breakfast” competition
  • We are now members of “Taste Club” (www.tasteclubhq.com) and the Local Food Network, and also the Durham Rural Community Council – with whom were founder signatories of the Durham Food Charter

Wild life

  • We try to encourage the birds to our garden with several feeders around
  • We keep a wild-life log - guests are encouraged to add to it
  • There are wilder areas for other creatures to shelter and we do have a small pond, with a solar powered oxygenator
  • We also have a nascent wild-flower - well, we hesitate to call it a meadow, but it's a start, and quite pretty
  • Having an old wall around the whole property, there are plenty of crevices for wild things
  •  Litter picking, when out with the dog – we regularly fill a whole (re-used) carrier bag with rubbish.

Laundry

  • We ask guests to keep the same bed linen for their stay. If longer than seven days, fresh linen will be supplied during the stay.
  •  We have a towel policy of keeping the same ones for a short stay.  When new ones are desired, they are to be put in the bath/shower tray.
  •  Where possible, laundry is dried outside.  If wet, on a pulley in the boiler room. A dessicant de-humidifier speeds up the drying – far more energy efficient than a tumble dryer, though we do use one in EXTREME situations!
  •  Most washing is done at low temperatures with “green” washing powder or liquid. 

Cleaning Products

  • We use only “green” cleaning products.  Ecover and Bio.D are our favoured brands. And we buy these in bulk, refilling containers for ready use.  We also like ASDA’s “Eco-friendly” washing powder
  • Lavatory paper and kitchen roll are from recycled paper and facial tissues are made from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) approved paper
  • A good deal of cleaning around the house is done with diluted disinfectant, or vinegar and water, re-using spray cleaning bottles, or vinegar and bicarbonate of soda
  • A carpet sweeper, rather than a vacuum cleaner is often used
  • Guests are asked to use the liquid soaps and washes provided rather than the miniatures
  • We offer Bath House toiletries in the bathrooms.  These do not contain the widely used chemical surfactant S.L.S. or T.E.A. in any of the products.  Made in Cumbria, Bath House products are largely organic, and we buy them in bulk containers to minimise packaging waste.

Transport

  •  We don’t live on a bus route and most of our visitors do arrive by car. However, we always send out details of public transport with our booking confirmations, bus and other transport timetables are readily  to hand in the house and we do have storage for bicycles
  • We can arrange bike hire for guests, with the bikes being delivered to Dowfold House for guests' use.

Besides the GTBS, we are members of the local Weardale Visitors Network, Visit England, the National Trust and the Royal Horticultural Society, and are listed with the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Bath House Hair & Body Wash

One of the Bath House personal care products made available in Dowfold House Bed and Breakfast bathrooms

Dowfold House Bed andBreakfast Solar Panels

Installed in 2011, these literally light up our guests' lives!

Dowfold House Lemons!