The experience of an Eco Guesthouse and SuperHome owner
Posted by Louisa Clarke on 31 July 2017 at 2:30 pm
SuperHome owners will open their doors this September as part of the 10th year celebrations happening across the UK. These are homes that have reduced their carbon footprint by at least 60%. This is a great opportunity for visitors to see for themselves both the challenges and benefits associated with making older homes more energy efficient. They also allow people to see retrofit technologies in real homes, and to ask questions about them. To find out more about the experience of being a SuperHome owner, I interviewed John from SuperHome number 154, the Bryn Elltyd Eco Guesthouse.
John and Ceilia run the Guesthouse, built in 1883, in the heart of Snowdonia. They bought the guesthouse in 2007 and quickly began the renovation. They use 100% renewable energy and have achieved a high carbon saving of 92%.
They set about making extensive improvements, including a Biomass Boiler, Solar PV panels and Solar Water Heating. When asked what his favorite measure is, John informs me that it’s the comprehensive, whole-house insulation, including loft, roof, ceiling, floor, internal and external wall insulation. This is because it has made a real difference to how warm the house is and has improved John and Ceilia’s living standards and comfort. He is also particularly fond of his recent addition, a Tesla green electric car charging point for their cars and guests with electric cars.
The couple has always had an interest in sustainable living. However, a visit to the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales acted as a carbon conscious catalyst; they were so impressed that they installed some of the first solar panels on their previous home in Coventry and continued this passion after their move to Wales.
Eco-retrofitting their home is important to them for many reasons, primarily to be independent in terms of energy use, especially as they live in such a remote location. They also see the importance of reducing carbon emissions and moving towards a future of renewable energy. In addition, they enjoy promoting low carbon lifestyles to their guests, and educating them on how they can achieve a highly energy efficient home. Many visitors choose to stay with them because it is an Eco Guesthouse, and are interested in the technology used which John is more than happy to demonstrate and explain. Others tend to comment on the fact that it runs like a normal guesthouse, despite the eco-retrofit technology. As with all SuperHome owners, John and Ceilia hope that in showing the measures they have used to improve the energy efficiency of the house, this will show that anyone can do it to their own home.
John and Ceilia have been SuperHome owners for nearly 5 years and have opened their guesthouse to the public during the September SuperHomes Open Days every year since. This offers them the chance to have real conversations with visitors about what does and doesn’t work in terms of retrofit technology. They allow people to see for themselves the technology in action, and how they can replicate the successes of the guesthouse in their own homes.
This year is the 10th year of SuperHomes open days, and during these 10 years John said that domestic retrofit has changed considerably. When their interest started, John says that most people didn’t understand the new eco-retrofit technology. Now, more people are aware of the need to retrofit old homes to make them more energy efficient. In addition, global movements like the Paris Climate Change agreement represent a greater awareness on the need to act on climate change by reducing carbon emissions. However, there still needs to be an attitude change with more people becoming involved in domestic retrofit.
If you would like to visit a SuperHome open day at Bryn Elltyd then please visit: www.superhomes.org.uk/154 and book your place on the 7th or the 10th September.
To find out more about John’s guesthouse visit: (http://www.ecoguesthouse.co.uk/).
About the author: Louisa is a summer volunteer at The National Energy Foundation working primarily on the SuperHomes project. She is in her second year of studying Geography at Birmingham and is passionate about renewable energy and sustainability-related issues.
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