The trick to living a comfortable life in retirement is being frugal but not cheap, or so Tony of Hillside Farm tells me. The distinction between frugal and cheap is a big one: frugal is getting the best price for a quality product and then utilising it to the maximum degree; cheap is buying inferior products for a lower price and usually becomes a false-economy when something breaks. As a retired journalist Tony is no stranger to thorough research and he has clearly planned his retirement home very methodically and frugally.
“In retirement saving money is very important and we need to find ways to reduce costs and acheive the maximum output from every purchase.”
Heating Hillside Farm
Tony moved into Hillside Farm several years ago to downsize ready for retirement. The oldest section of the new house was converted from an old barn, once used as a cowshed but now forming the base from where the house extends. When Tony occupied Hillside there remained remnants of the barns former agricultural life including a derelict diesel tank sited on a concrete base 18 inches away from the old barn wall (pictured below). Not one to waste a perfectly usable base which would otherwise look unsightly, Tony sought to site a heating oil tank on the base which would supply central heating to the house staving off the cold countryside winters.
From doing a bit of research Tony discovered that the gap between the tank base and the wall was too small to site a conventional oil tank. Building regulations state that a heating oil tank must be sited at least 1.8 meters from non-fire rated building walls. However, a heating oil tank integrally fitted with a fire rated barrier can be sited next to a building while still adhering to building regulations. Tuffa Tanks specialise in manufacturing fire protected oil tanks and have a reputation for good quality products so it’s no surprise that Tony’s quest for a sound investment led to a call to us.
After discussing the dimensions of the base with Dee in our Sales Support team it transpired that our fire protected 2300 litre heating oil tank had the perfect dimensions to fit snugly onto the old diesel tank base. By purchasing our fire protected tank at a standard size there was no need for more costly bespoke manufacturing. The tank is also integrally fire-rated and acts as an alternative form of compliance when compared to conventional fire barriers, meaning that building work and site inspectors can be avoided and installation is quick, easy and inexpensive.
“The Sales and Services team are top-notch. Calling them up is never trouble and they are always a good laugh. The oil tank looks great with a nice unobtrusive green colour. The fire protection even means I can put trellis around it if I want to.”
While Tony may have bought a smaller garden, he certainly didn’t downsize on the garden with 16 acres of land, 14 acres of which are set aside for growing crops. Like every smallholder, Tony values self-sufficiency and does what he can to reduce running costs. In his case, this means utilising the 245 square meter roof on Hillside Farm and using it to harvest rainwater. With an average rainfall of 68.5mm of water per month in Surrey, that makes around 16,500 litres of free water each month.
- A filter diverter – filters the water collected in the guttering removing dirt and debris before diverting the water to the tank.
- Calmed inlet – releases the water from the bottom of the tank which oxygenates the water in the tank to prevent it from stagnating.
- Overflow siphon – when the tank reaches maximum capacity the overflow siphon diverts the excess water to drainage. It also removes pollen from the water surface to keep it clean.
With such small-scale smallholding keeping costs down is an absolute necessity. Everything has to be kept to proportion and budget. This includes using the heating and water tanks to their max capacity.
To get the most out of the rainwater harvesting tank and equipment Tony fitted the tank to pipes which interweave around his smallholding watering the crops – all at the turn of a screw. As well as reducing the amount of time needed to tend to the smallholding and the water bill, this also gives the crops vital and nutrient-rich water whenever there is a drought.
From reading this you might get the impression that retirement is some kind of a militant operation instead of a reward for decades of hard work. That’s until you find out about Tony’s secondary use for the rainwater tank: an idyllic pond.
Upon moving into Hillside Farm Tony found the land to be a bit too barren. To attract wildlife to the area and improve the overall scenery he built a 12x8m man-made pond with a clay lining which he planted with species native to this country. Pond water can evaporate without regular rain so to keep it topped-up Tony fed pipes from the Tuffa water tank to a water butt which feeds the pond. It seems to me that Tony is a man of extremes, he is very frugal and thinks meticulously about getting the best value from his purchases, but in doing so he is able to live a comfortable life in a location most people would find enviable.
The Tuffa team are proud to have helped Tony to create his retirement retreat.
You can find out more about rainwater harvesting in our blog How to Harvest Rainwater in Three Steps. Or, if you have any questions about heating oil tanks then check out An Expert Guide to Heating Oil Storage for information, advice and industry insights covering everything from the basic question “what is heating oil?” to the money-saving “how can I get the best price for heating oil?”
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