Open House Weekend

Last week was Open House weekend as the 40,000 or so people that went to Battersea Power Station should know. Having had a quick peek at it recently as part of the improvement zone project I was able to visit a couple of eco homes instead. Having seen quite a number of architect led fantasy eco homes as part of other tours I was eager instead to see some normal houses that had been upgraded at a reasonable cost and with great savings.

The first visit was to The Coach House in Belsize Park a lovely house on the end of a Georgian terrace. Waiting outside we particularly admired the tradesman’s entrance with the big Tradesmen sign above it. tradesman

We were welcomed in by the owners along with a couple of other early risers. We began with an introduction to the house and the owners ambitions for the refit. They wanted to achieve somewhere near the 80% reduction in carbon emissions and energy usage that the government has committed to for 2050. They have achieved something near this through insulating the walls and the roof, replacing and refurbishing windows and using low energy bulbs and heating controls.

The walls were particularly impressive, the internal wall insulation added at the front of the house is almost impossible to spot:

Internal wall insulation

 

And the only way to tell that the outside has been done is to tap the wall and listen to the slightly hollow sound created by the foam underneath:

IMAG0996

The roof was mostly flat and had been insulated externally with decking placed on top of that so you can walk on it:

roof insulation

 

Inside there is a an Owl electricity meter and Passivsystems heat control. I was pleased to learn afterwards that they had used a Parity Home Energy Masterplan to plan out the refurbishment of their house.

You can read lots more about the house and see videos on the Superhomes website. Well worth a look, particularly to see how unobtrusive wall insulation is. A lot of people I speak to seem to think it will make there rooms tiny but this is definitely not the case, and you get great windowsills for plants etc.

This was further illustrated by the next house we visited in a mansion block near King’s Cross. This was also a super home and a cosy flat Judd-St-374x294

on the top floor. The flat had also had internal insulation on the walls and this time the ceiling as well. Again the insulation couldn’t be seen and the owners had also added coving to the ceiling and the same time improving the look of the flat.

 

 

Open House Eco Highlights

I have been planning a few visits for Open House this weekend as it is a great chance to snoop around and pick up tips for future projects. I have found 3 eco homes in South London and 4 in North London so you can choose, or get up early and do them all. The North London ones are all tours with www.superhomes.org.uk and need to be booked and the South London ones you can just turn up for.

North London

London, Camden, Belsize Park Gardens, The Coach House
BelsizeT_hall-sunlight-374x294

This looks a pretty smart house with has had a lot of money invested in it. Sounds like they have a real enthusiasm and a lovely house. Includes wall insulation, LED lights and an electricity monitoring system.

London, Camden, St Augustine’s Road

A project by Camden Council to make a large house as sustainable as possible, worth a view and on the route between the others. Includes solar water heating, draught proofing and a condensing boiler.

London, Camden, Judd St, Queen Alexandra Mansions
Judd-St-374x294

A definite research visit this one, I am always being asked what you can do in a flat and I hope to pick up some tips here. Includes low energy bulbs and wall insulation.

London, Hackney, Amhurst Road

This is a house I have visited before and found inspirational when I visited. They have produced an excellent pragmatic retrofit that didn’t require rebuilding the whole house but still made a big difference to costs. This one is a little off the map from the others but I didn’t want to miss it out. Maybe have a cup of tea round Kings Cross and then head out here or visit first or last depending on where you live. Includes biodiversity features along with the usual wall insulation etc.

South London

49 Camberwell Grove, SE5 8JA, London, England

A long thin house that sounds really interesting for a nose around with some great green features including rainwater harvesting and solar panels.

3 Acorns Retro Eco-house, 2 Coleman Road, Camberwell, SE5 7TG, London, England

3 acorns

Another inspiring home that shows real practical changes you can make to any house and save. The owner is inspirational too and I left with a copy of his book last time I visited and have used it lots since, you can buy one here or probably when you get to the house. Includes solar thermal, solar panels and my favourite the ecofan.

Quay House, 2C Kings Grove (Queens Road end), SE15 2NB, London, England

Quay House

A bit further out but I hope I get time to look at this stylish and modern development.

 

Map

I have had a go at creating a Google map here there is an obvious route between the first 3 in North London and the south ones are pretty close together too.

Home surveys

If you feel inspired to change your home after your visit why not book an Ecoalex home eco audit for your house and see what you could change.