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Wondering how to further reduce your energy bills? Have a look at the HOBBS report for a few ideas.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

4 Nottingham SuperHomes open to visitors in September 2015

September is the month when many SuperHomes across the UK open their doors to visitors.

This year, 4 SuperHomes in the Nottingham area will take part. As ever, it's free, and a great chance to talk to the home owners and find out what they did to make their old homes cheaper to heat and more comfortable.

1950's detached SuperHome in West Bridgford, click here. 

This 4 bedroom home has negative energy bills following a refurbishment which used the Passivhaus methodology as a guide. It is currently for sale, so September 2015 may be one of the last chances to visit (unless whoever buys it decides to take up the SuperHomes baton).

1890's semi SuperHome in West Bridgford, click here.

One of the first SuperHomes, this home is still ahead of its time, with lower carbon emissions than most modern new builds!

1900's semi SuperHomes in Beeston, click here.

A traditional home with a modern extension, and greatly reduced energy use, bills and carbon emissions as well.

Edwardian SuperHome in Carlton, click here.

This detached home has undergone an extensive refurbishment bringing energy bills, energy use and carbon emissions down below levels seen in many modern houses.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Low energy homes - to buy or to build?

Suppose you want to live in a home that is high on comfort and air quality, but low on carbon emissions, maintenance and energy bills, what are your options?

With an ultra low energy home currently for sale in Nottingham, and a number of building plots dotted around the area, it seems like a good time to weigh up the pros and cons of the various routes to living in an eco home:

To Buy?   To Build?    To Retrofit?

To Buy

The best thing about buying a low energy home is that all the hard work has been done for you. And this is a major advantage if you don't enjoy dirt and disruption.

Another big reason for buying a finished eco home rather than taking on a new build or retrofit yourself is that the sale price is a known figure - no getting half way through the project with the stress of running out of finance before it's complete.

The reality is that you'll probably have to be flexible about location. Genuine eco homes are still pretty thin on the ground and can be hard to find. As yet, there's no way of searching on RightMove for "all EPC A and B rated homes / all Passive Houses for sale in your chosen location".

However, there are websites which focus on selling eco homes, such as - where you'll find some of the eco homes currently for sale in your area.

To Build

Building a new eco home is a great idea, but it can take years of persistence to make it happen. If there's a plot for sale just where you want it (and at the right price), you're either very flexible in your chosen location, or very lucky.

For anyone who would like to live in a new build eco house, but doesn't have any experience of the construction industry, joining a community self build might be the answer. There have been some great projects around the UK. Check out the Lancaster Co Housing project which is now complete. (And by the way, one of those is for sale right now!)

To Retrofit

Buying an ordinary house and turning it into an eco home has a lot to be said for it. If you want to be in a very specific location, it may well be the only way to go.

Whatever house you are in, the common sense things like loft insulation, boiler and cavity wall insulation are always worth considering. To go that bit further, external wall insulation can make a big difference to comfort and energy bills.

However, to turn a typical UK house into a really low energy home takes more work. And if you're aiming for an ultra-low energy refurbishment such as the EnerPHit (or Passive House refurbishment standard), it will take time and money and specialist expertise.

Is it worth it?

Like most people I know already living in low energy homes, I feel that it has been worth all the effort and expense.

The level of comfort in my own home is way beyond anything I've experienced previously. If designed right, these homes can be warm in winter and cool in summer (although some are not designed to avoid overheating).

The other big difference is air quality. Mould and condensation are a thing of the past in a properly designed eco home.

My own house has a whole house ventilation system which filters the incoming air. It's quite shocking to see how dirty these filters get - and good to see what is not getting into my home and my lungs. I could add a pollen filter as well, if anyone in the family needed a haven from hay fever.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Open Homes weekend a success - and more to come!

The last weekend of April was a busy one, with 70 visits to nine lower energy homes.

High tech, low tech and home made ways to save energy were on display.

I particularly liked Jake's double-hatched loft hatch (see photo), a modification to the original hatch which was designed and made by Jake himself. The top hatch which lifts out is insulated and draught-proofed, while the lower hatch (below the ladder) is just draught-proofed.


And the event is not over yet - the tenth home, on Peverill Drive in West Bridgford, opens its doors on Sunday 3rd May at 11am. (Click here to book)

Note - full address and other details will be emailed to you after you make your booking.

On the same day there is a further chance to visit the homes on:

Patrick Road (12.30pm) - click here to book

Musters Road (2pm) - click here to book 

Harrow Road (3pm) - click here to book

So if you or someone you know would like to see these, just book your free visit.

There are further details of all these homes here 

However, if 3rd May is not convenient, there are other Open Homes events in the UK during May. The closest being this one (click here).

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Timetable of Open Homes April 2015

Homes are open on 25th and 26th April, and also 3rd May.

To see details of all the homes,  click here.

(or copy this into your browser:

For a timetable of all the homes, read on...

Saturday 25th April

10am - Musters Road, West Bridgford and Greenstone, East Leake

11.30am - Charnock Avenue, Wollaton (talk by the architect)

1pm - Belmont Villas, Beeston

2pm - Musters Road, WB  and Lady Bay Road, WB

2.30pm - Wollaton Road Beeston (talk by the architect)

3.30pm - Lady Bay Road, WB, Burnside Road, WB

For anyone wanting to visit several homes in a more or less logical order geographically, the Saturday sequence would be 10am - Greenstone in East Leake, 11.30am Charnock Avenue, Wollaton, 1pm Belmont Villas, Beeston and 2.30pm Wollaton Road, Beeston (or 3.30pm Burnside Road, West Bridgford).

Sunday 26th April

10am - Musters Road, WB

11am - Harrow Road, WB (talk by the architect) and Lady Bay Road, WB

12.30pm - Lady Bay Road, WB

2pm - Musters Road, WB, Patrick Road, WB (talk by the architect) and Greenstone, East Leake

2.30pm - Lady Bay Road, WB

3.30pm - Harrow Road, WB

4pm - Lady Bay Road, WB

For anyone wanting to visit several homes in a more or less logical order geographically, the Sunday sequence could be 10am - Musters Road, 11am - Harrow Road, 12.30pm - Lady Bay, and 2pm - Patrick Road

Sunday 3rd May

11am - Peveril Solar House, WB

12.30pm - Patrick Road, WB (talk by the architect)

2pm - Musters Road, WB

3 pm - Harrow Road, WB

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Open Homes April 2015 - Home no. 11 (Burnside House)

The eleventh home taking part in this year's spring time Open Homes event is on Burnside Road in West Bridgford.

This semi-detached house built in 1939 has been improved step by step over the last 7 years, and further work is planned.
Eco-features on display include:
  • Solar PV and solar hot water (2008-9)
  • Timber triple glazing (2014)
  • External wall insulation with government grant (2015)

For anyone considering External Wall Insulation, and interested to know more about the government's Green Deal Home Improvement Fund grant scheme that helps home owners with the cost of installation, this home and the one on Musters Road are very relevant.

This home is open on Saturday 25th April at 3.30pm

To book your free place, click here


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Open Homes April 2015 - Home no. 10 (Peveril Solar House)

The tenth home taking part in this year's spring time Open Homes event is on Peveril Drive in West Bridgford.

Peveril Solar House is a 2000's detached house. It is fairly standard in its original construction, but is far from ordinary in the renewable technologies employed. It is the UK's first entirely solar heated house, using a combination of power generation and underground thermal storage. 

Eco-features on display include:
  • Ground source heat pump drawing energy from vertical borehole
  • 6 sqm of innovative self-built sunboxes burying thermal energy 16 storeys underground
  • PV panel array producing more electrical energy than the annual heating requirement
  • Passive house style extension in SIPS panel construction
  • New - innovative composting and vertical farming systems
  • Solar dehydrator (will be on show before it gets moved to an organic farm)
  • Electrical car charging point
The home owner has developed the sun boxes as a research, design and build project, and monitored their impact, and has lectured about it, home and abroad. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about what renewables can achieve.
Other features that may be of interest is the disability adaptation of the house - sliding doors, wheel chair accessible bathroom, disable designed kitchen, platform elevator. 

This home is open on Saturday 3rd May at 11am

To book your free place, click here.

Open Homes April 2015 - Home no. 9 (Patrick Road)

The ninth home taking part in this year's spring time Open Homes event is an 1890's semi on Patrick Road in West Bridgford.

This home was possibly the first radical refurbishment in the UK. The owners have around 15 years experience of living in their low energy home since the bulk of the refurbishment was done, and have made further adjustments over time. 

The work has included:

Insulated roof with ply webs and 300 mm cellulose insulation U value = 0.12
Insulated side and rear walls with external insulation (EWI) with 140 mm EPS and render finish U=0.23
Insulated floors with natural insulation (sheep’s wool and wood fibre board)
Newly rebuilt front bay (due to severe structural movement)
Refurbished interior and front of house following house fire in 2014
Insulated front wall with 100 mm internal insulation (IWI) U=0.2
Timber triple glazing including brand new sliding sashes and fully glazed front door
Solar thermal (tubes)
Wood boiler and heat store in cellar
Heat recovery through the wall fans
Energy and water efficient appliances
Rainwater harvesting and water management
Green oak and living roof structures in garden
Two different recycled kitchens (bespoke and low cost examples)
Second hand furniture
Natural paints

LED lights (first generation and latest)

This home is open on Sunday 26th April at 11am and 2pm 

And on Sunday 3rd May at 12.30pm

To book your free place, click here.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Open Homes April 2015 - Home no. 8 (Holwell House)

The eighth home taking part in this year's spring time Open Homes event is a 1940's end terrace in Holwell near Melton Mowbray.

This home has had to be withdrawn

There are others with some similar features such as 

Greenstone in East Leake.

So far, the owners have installed:
- low energy lighting
- PV panels on the roof linked to a system that diverts spare electricity from the roof to heat water.

They installed the PV panels in December 2014 so know how the system will run through the winter (the worst months for PV) and are no doubt hoping for a sunny summer!

Open Homes April 2015 - Home no. 7 (Wollaton Road)

The seventh home taking part in this year's spring time Open Homes event is an 1870's semi-detached house, now in the later stages of the refurbishment project and with a large side extension added.

The work included:

High levels of insulation throughout including external wall insulation - in progress
Mechanical ventilation with Heat Recovery system
Solar thermal hot water system with large thermal store - in progress
Underfloor heating throughout, fed from thermal store - in progress
All windows high performance triple glazed

Solar Photovoltaics

This home is open on Saturday 25th April at 2.30pm (and the architect will be giving a talk and answering questions)

To book your free place, click here.

Open Homes April 2015 - Home no. 6 (Charnock Avenue)

The sixth home taking part in this year's spring time Open Homes event is a 1930's bungalow in Wollaton.

It has been extensively refurbished to near Passive House standards. The work includes: 

- insulation, air tightness and a ventilation system with heat recovery

- modern gas boiler and solar hot water system with large thermal store

- LED lighting and water efficiency

This home is open on Saturday 25th April at 11.30am

To book your free place, click here.


Open Homes April 2015 - Home no. 5 (Harrow Road)

The fifth home taking part in this year's spring time Open Homes event is a 1950's detached house in West Bridgford.


It was extended and refurbished using the Passive House refurb standard (EnerPHit) as a guide. The works include: 

External wall insulation with render and some brick slips
Super-insulated loft conversion (insulation above and between rafters)
300mm insulation between ground floor slab
Triple glazed doors and windows, quad glazed roof light
Air tightness just over 1 ACH (extremely draught-proofed)
Whole house MVHR (mechanical ventilation with heat recovery)
Replaced all light bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs

Installed 3.2 kw solar PV system
Low water use features

This home is open on 11am and 3.30pm Sunday 26th April and at 3pm on Sunday 3rd May
To book your free place, click here.


Thursday, March 05, 2015

Open Homes April 2015 - Home no. 4 (Lady Bay)

The fourth home taking part in this year's spring time Open Homes event is a 1930's semi-detached house in West Bridgford.

In 2014 it was extended and refurbished. The works include:

New gas boiler and controls
New double glazed windows and doors
Additional loft insulation (including loft hatch)
Through-the-wall fan with heat recovery installed in the bathroom
Internal insulation (front elevation)
External insulation (back and side elevations)
Single storey extension (cavity wall construction to building regulations)
Solar PV panels fitted to south and east facing roof

This home is open on Saturday 25th April (2pm and 3.30pm) and Sunday 26th April (11am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm and 4pm).

To book your free place, click here.


Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Open Homes April 2015 - Home no. 3 (Greenstone)

Our third home on the list was probably the first zero carbon barn conversion in the UK.

The barn, built in 1860, was converted in 2008 and now generates more energy than it consumes.

As you might expect, this was achieved with a highly efficient building fabric and a range of renewable technologies which not only serve the home but also help to run the electric car.

Super Insulation (25w/m2)
Air tight (2.3m3/m2@50P)
Whole house ventilation with heat recovery
Triple glazed
Underfloor heating
Ground sourced heat pump with bore hole heat collection for space heating and hot water
Biomass pellet stove for backup/occasional room heating
Solar thermal
Solar PV roof and ground mounted
Solar battery storage
Optimersion (using surplus solar electricity to generate hot water)
High use of thermal mass to reduce heating required and control summer overheating
Rain water recycling
Electric car charging

Detailed energy monitoring

For anyone wanting highly technical information about various renewable technologies, home owner David Hill will be able to answer a wide range of questions.

Open on Saturday 25th April at 10am and Sunday 26th April at 2pm.

To book your free visit, click here.

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David is also MD of Carbon Legacy Ltd., a local company which installs renewable technologies, and also one of the sponsors of this event.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Open Homes April 2015 - Home no. 2 (Belmont Villas)

The second house taking part in this year's Open Homes event (25-26th April 2015) is in Beeston.

Belmont Villas house is an Edwardian semi-detached house built in 1901 which underwent extensive renovation work in 2014.

The owners are happy to talk about their successes and also their errors - so if you want the low down on a refurbishment project, this is a really useful one to see.

The upgrade to this solid wall home includes:

Triple glazed sash windows (except double glazed rooflights and attic).
Internal insulation to external walls.
Ground floor: 150 mm floor insulation and underfloor heating.
First floor: rockwool under floor boards and underfloor heating.
Draught proofing
New condensing boiler.
Low energy lighting
Water saving devices include low flow shower, and low flush toilet

This home will be open to visitors on 25th April at 1pm

To book your free visit, click here.

For photographs and more details about this house, go to the Superhomes website (it is Superhome 170). 

Monday, March 02, 2015

Open Homes April 2015 - home no. 1 (Musters Road)

Over the next few weeks, details of all the April 2015 Open Homes will be listed here.

First up, a 1930's detached house in West Bridgford with a conservatory (2001) and loft conversion (2007).

Like many homes of this age in the local area, it is heated with a gas boiler and has solid walls that cannot be insulated with cavity wall insulation.

However, unlike most homes in the same street, in 2014, this home was insulated using external wall insulation, and the conservatory glass roof was replaced with high-tech glazing which is more energy efficient.

Better still, the owners were able to use one of the recent government grant schemes (Green Deal Home Improvement Fund) to help significantly with the cost of the insulation.

Did it work? Was it worth it? Was there much disruption?

The home owners have definitely seen a significant improvement in comfort. And if you'd like to know more, book on to a visit and ask them about it yourself.

Open Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th April at 10am and 2pm

And on Sunday 3rd May at 2pm

To book your free visit, click here.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Open Homes in and around Nottingham, April 2015

Transition West Bridgford's springtime Open Homes event is taking place on the weekend of 25th and 26th April 2015.

We're expecting to have more homes to visit than any time before (eleven so far) so there will be plenty to choose from. Several have only just completed their refurbishments in the last 12 months, and some are still in progress.

All the details will be posted here in the next month. And if you'd like to receive an email when the opening times have been finalised, just email with OPEN HOMES WEEKEND in the header.

This is event is supported by funding from the Green Open Homes network with additional sponsorship from local companies Carbon Legacy Ltd, Westville Ltd and John A Stephens (the local builders merchants). Co-ordination of the event is by local consultancy EcoHouseNet.

If your company would like to sponsor community energy events like this one, please get in touch.

Organised by: and

With funding from:    

And additional sponsorship from....