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Old homes can be energy efficient: visit a superhome and be inspired

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 July 2009 at 9:08 am

Old homes tend to be the worst offenders when it comes to leaking hot air out into the atmosphere. This means higher than average energy bills, and correspondingly high carbon emissions.

Often labelled 'hard to treat', older homes can be more complicated when it comes to installing energy efficiency measures. With no cavity walls, insulating them involves more cash, more upheaval, and it can be difficult to find contractors with the right expertise.

One way to find out what’s possible is to visit a home that has already been transformed and has reduced its energy use and carbon emissions by 60 per cent or more. This is now a realistic option thanks to the Old Home, Superhome scheme run by the Sustainable Energy Academy (SEA).

The 'Superhomes' are practical examples of what’s possible. Most have internal or external insulation, solar hot water, low energy lightbulbs and high efficiency boilers and controls. Others have less common features, such as ground source heat pumps, solar electricity, rainwater harvesting and light tubes.

Their owners invite visitors to see and learn, and take action to improve their own home. Some are open to visitors, and you can take a video fly-through others. There were 30,000 visitors in the first year alone.

The success of the Old Home, Superhome scheme was recognised with an Ashden Award last month. There are 28 homes in the programme so far, with 20 more joining soon, and a target to recruit 200 across the UK. If you think yours is suitable you can contact SEA through its website.

“Even old, hard-to-treat homes can achieve huge carbon savings using existing technology at a cost that is relatively small compared to the value of a house,” said the Ashden Awards judges.

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