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The Sun Always Shines as Dacombes of Wimborne Goes Solar

Wimborne’s longest running independent home electronics store is tuning into solar energy to help power its hundreds of domestic appliances, televisions and state-of-the-art home cinemas in its large Dorset showroom.

The family-run business on Leigh Road, which was founded in 1920, has been working in conjunction with Low Carbon Dorset, a green grant initiative for businesses run by Dorset Council.

Matt Renaut, managing director of Dacombes explained: “With air-conditioning, lighting, TVs and displays, our electricity drain equated to having three kettles boiling all day long. I used to have to sit down before opening our monthly electricity bill. The increase in the last few years has been alarming!”

With further energy price hikes on the horizon. Matt applied for a grant via Low Carbon Dorset, a process that took five months from grant application to completion.

Steven Ford, Dorset Council’s Corporate Director for Strategy, Performance and Sustainability, said: “Officers from our Low Carbon Dorset programme have worked closely with the team at Dacombes to help them make significant strides in reducing their environmental impact and boosting their energy efficiency.

“Free technical advice and a grant from the programme has helped Dacombes install green measures which are expected to significantly reduce their carbon footprint, lower their energy bills, and support future green initiatives.”

A total of 99 solar panels, creating a 41kw system were fitted by Ringwood-based Empower Energy, responsible for the design, installation and ongoing maintenance.

Mark Wingrove, Business Development Manager for Empower Energy said: “This was a complex project utilising five roof elevations.”

But the challenge was certainly worth it. Matt Renaut commented: “Even in the poor weather we’re experiencing now, we’re still generating enough energy during the day to power our store during its opening hours.

Mark Wingrove added; “Unlike domestic energy users, there’s no price cap protection for commercial organisations, so managing the soaring costs of energy bills with no idea of what the industry is going to do is a huge strain on cashflow.

Dacombes is now enjoying independence from the grid, in control of its own usage and costs alongside helping to reduce their environmental impact. “

In addition to the solar panels, Dacombes now has two EV van chargers and a Tesla battery. It also uses a heat pump for all heating and cooling along with energy-efficient lighting and equipment.

Matt Renaut said: “Phase 2 of our green energy initiative is to eventually have electric delivery vehicles so we can reduce our carbon footprint further. I’m proud that we’re on our way to running an eco-friendly business.”

This commitment to green energy has not gone unnoticed. Dacombes has recently been shortlisted for Best Independent Retailer Focused on Sustainability Consumer Electronics at this year’s Innovative Electrical Retailing Awards. The result will be announced in London on 6th June.

On a local level, Dacombes generously sponsors the annual Green Festival, organised by the eco-group Planet Wimborne, which takes place across the town in October. The store runs an Eco competition with one lucky winner receiving a full house make-over and upgrade of all their bulbs to energy-efficient lighting.

Matt Renaut commented: “We take a proactive approach to promote energy-efficient products and address customer concerns about energy usage and associated costs.

We take pride in our commitment to sustainability and community support by recycling and repurposing televisions, donating some to charities as well as running a TV rental service.

Our aim is total energy self-sufficiency, despite the substantial investment. We’re committed to a sustainable and responsible future, prioritizing environmentally friendly practices for long-term benefits to the planet alongside significant savings to our business model.”