Demand has grown each in the UK and US for its eponymously named Chimney Sheep (patent pending), a detachable plug for flues not in use. Made of felted wool from native Lakeland Herdwick flocks, it has helped take turnover to over £500,000 final yr. Phillips, a former ecologist and volunteer with Natural England, was investigating bats trapped in chimneys when she first realised how a lot warmth was additionally being misplaced from a house just like a completely open window and that some 11 million houses in the UK had been affected.
Developing a prototype utilizing cooking utensils after which with additional assist from Lancaster University engineers for the clamp and deal with components, she drew on her personal financial savings and enterprise grants for her £50,000 begin up prices and later funding.
These “made the business possible”, she says, by enabling her to satisfy the prices of the intensive testing required, retooling and earlier this yr getting essential validation from the building supplies trade.
Her first sale was in 2012 and as we speak Phillips employs 5 folks instantly and a additional staff after buying one other insulation enterprise the Chimney Balloon Co.
The wonders of wool, a sustainable supply that may be composted afterwards , collectively with the decrease value alternatives attainable with e-commerce via Amazon, are the core of Chimney Sheep.
Its excluders, from £18 to £65, can lower £50 off annual energy payments by holding heat air in and chilly out, blocking 94 % of airflow though nonetheless permitting air flow.
Among the newest merchandise are insulators for different leaky components of buildings and embrace blockers for joists and rafters, ground underlays and absorbers for sounds and reverberations.
Phillips now collects the wool instantly from native farmers, offering a a lot improved market worth for them for what was beforehand a little-rated by product and financial savings for Chimney Sheep.
Aware nonetheless she must offset her personal carbon emissions too she plans to plant 12,000 timber on a plot she has simply purchased.
The 16-ton fluffy hoard she gathers, that equates to some 16 % of the Herdwick inhabitants, then goes to Yorkshire to be cleaned and on to Austria for a distinctive, inexperienced therapy that makes it 100 % “invisible” to moths.
Scaling and diversifying the ranges to make Chimney Sheep much less seasonal has led to backyard merchandise, insoles and one other best-seller its Laundry Mac, a cowl for exterior rotary washing traces designed to avoid wasting on tumble dryer prices.
Top of Phillips’ listing now could be to get authorities approval for the excluder for use by energy suppliers.
“There is an obligation to reduce bills for customers in fuel poverty,” she says. “We fit with that and it would take us really mainstream.”