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SuperHomes – turning inspiration into action


At first glance, it might seem challenging to give an old Victorian home an energy make-over. SuperHome owner Ruth Shepherd shows how it can be done.

Ruth’s Story

In 2013 Ruth Shepherd decided to make some changes to her Manchester home. After a visit to SuperHome owner Eric Fewster’s house, Ruth decided to combine an energy upgrade with the kitchen and bathroom modernisation she already had planned. Superhomes are older homes refurbished by their owners for better comfort, lower bills and at least 60% lower carbon emissions. Every year, SuperHome owners open their doors providing free tours and Q&A sessions to those interested in improving their own homes.

Inspired by her visit, Ruth transformed her typically cold 19th century terraced house into a home worthy of the future. As well as topping up the loft insulation, internal wall insulation was added (see photos) to prevent the solid brick walls leaking heat to the street. Floor insulation was added, working in harmony with draught-proofing to create a better insulated, more airtight home that requires less heating in winter.

Internal wall insulation in progress ©SuperHomesInternal wall insulation in progress

Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery provides constant fresh air whilst maintaining the stable temperature of the property. A new condensing boiler provides space heating and hot water in an energy efficient manner, reducing gas consumption. New low energy LED lights were also added. Today the home’s carbon footprint is 67% smaller, but the benefits don’t end there.

Ruth says: “Now the average temperature of the house is around 20°C as opposed to 15°C before the refurbishment.” The bathroom, which could get very cold in winter, has been transformed and the addition of a shower is major improvement. Ruth says that when you are thinking of a new kitchen, bathroom or extension, it’s the ideal time to be considering an energy upgrade for your home. With fitters and builders onsite, works can be combined to reduce costs and disruption.

SuperHomes demonstrate the kind of comprehensive energy upgrade that is needed to most UK homes if we are to reduce our carbon emissions and help avoid the worst effects of climate change. The market for energy improvements today is small; we need to take this into the mainstream and SuperHomes are helping to do just that.

Walls after insulation had been installed ©SuperHomesWalls after insulation had been installed

Government has a role to play too, by providing financial help to those unable to afford such upgrades and encouraging those who can. The Government is currently considering the future of its schemes for energy efficiency – we hope that it seizes this opportunity to create a home renovation programme on the scale that we need.

SuperHome open days

Visiting a SuperHome provides an opportunity to see and experience the difference refurbishment can make. Most visitors come away with new ideas and inspiration, plus invaluable tips on what works best. If you are thinking about upgrading your own home, it makes sense to start with the basics – the walls, roof, floors and windows. Get all these working together with plenty of insulation and your heating bills will be dramatically reduced, you’ll be warm and cosy all year round and you’ll have reduced your carbon emissions.

Ruth Shepherd at her Manchester SuperHome ©SuperHomesRuth Shepherd at her Manchester SuperHome ©SuperHomes

You can join a free tour of Ruth’s home on 12 and 13 September as part of a series of SuperHome Open Days. Entry is free; Visit www.superhomes.org.uk to find out more or to reserve a place on a tour.

The events are coordinated by the National Energy Foundation and supported by Green Open Homes. Thanks also goes to Jacob Morris-Davies for his contribution to this blog.

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