Edwardian three-storey, end of terrace house

“We bought the house in 1997. It was an ex-Council property subsequently divided into low cost rentals. The owner lived on the ground floor. Although the property was superficially in a poor state of repair its fabric was robust with no work required on the roof, window frames and floors sound, and no subsidence. The energy efficiency makeover was carried out over several years focussing in turn upon draft proofing, windows, floors, wood heating, walls and solar energy. The result is a very liveable, low cost family house.”


The roof required no work apart from a few tiles and flashings. Internally we did an attic conversion to expand the existing bedroom putting rigid Kingspan insulation in the roof. In hindsight we could have made this thicker but there is the option to drop the ceiling as the rooms have very high ceilings.
Walls are 225mm solid brickwork. We have used 10mm thick Sempatap internal wall insulation which allows the period features to be retained and leaves the external brickwork visible. The Sempatap is a DIY product like wallpaper and makes the internal face of the external walls ‘neutral’ and not ‘cold’.
The stripped pine suspended wooden floors throughout the ground floor have been insulated with sheep’s wool between the joists. This was done from underneath as there was adequate crawl space which now serves as useful storage.


All the original sash windows have been refurbished and returned to the original wood and oiled on the inside. We have added secondary glazing of Magneglaze perspex held in place by magnetic strips and wooden frames. External doors have been draft proofed.
Full length curtains cover all windows and external doors. A thermal image survey illustrated the windows and doors (without curtains) as the area of the external façade losing the most heat.


The main source of heating for the house consists of a wood burning stove in the open plan living/ kitchen area on the ground floor. The heat from the stove naturally finds its way upstairs without any mechanical ventilation required.

We also have a high efficiency gas central heating system which we only need to use for 15-30 minutes twice a day in the colder months.

We use solar energy for both hot water and electricity.
Two solar thermal panels provide all the hot water for 8 months and partial supply for the remainder of the year. We essentially turn the boiler off for most of the year.
A 2 kw solar photovoltaic system (8 panels with micro-inverters so they all work independently) provides most of the house’s electricity (2000 kw) on an annual basis. We receive a FIT (Feed in Tariff) payment for the summer and purchase electricity from the grid in the winter and in the evenings.


We have installed low energy lighting through-out the house and monitor usage using an Owl monitor.
A low energy continuous running fan in the bathroom keeps condensation to a minimum.


Externally we grow vegetables and have a living wall and wild life pond. The flat roofs at the back of the house have a sedum living roof.
The result of all the work (DIY plus contractors) is a warm, comfortable house with a ‘high C’ EPC rating and very low utility bills (approx. £150 pa gas and £150 pa electricity for a 186m2 house). This is approximately 4% of the UK average usage per m2.

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