A new feature – refurb product reviews by SuperHomers – makes its debut on the website this month. We hope readers find this growing resource helpful. Other news: Green Open Home events continue to inspire and four SuperHomes will participate in Carbon Coop’s Open Days this month. Two SuperHomers will also appear on BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth programme on 25 April. Do tune in…
In this update
Refurb product reviews by SuperHomers
You’ll find the makings of a new feature on the website this month: in-depth product reviews. These reviews have been written by owners who have lived with the installed products, found them to be reliable and are happy to recommend them. The aim is to provide independent, honest, balanced reviews of products installed as part of a refurbishment project. Reviewers receive no payment for writing a review and all views are those of the reviewer. Once we have the critical mass of product reviews we’ll create a dedicated Reviews page. The first wave of reviews cover different makes of biomass boiler, heat pumps and mechanical ventilation, plus thin aerogel insulation.
What can be done to improve the nation’s housing stock?
SuperHomers Chris Preist and Gavin Killip will help answer part of the equation on the BBC Radio 4’s Costing the Earth programme on 25 April. The programme hopes to engage with the Government on the issue – particularly in relation to the lack of skilled workers available to carry out house renovations. SuperHomes provides the beacon of hope within the programme – an example of what can be achieved. Chris and Gavin were interviewed by Martin Poyntz-Roberts at their homes. Both are highly experienced researchers as well as owners of properties refurbished to an exceptionally high level of energy efficiency. The date of the broadcast could yet change but you’ll be able to catch the programme on demand as a podcast here once aired.
Show Homes – An effective force for inspiring domestic retrofit
If this Government is serious about cutting carbon emissions and renovating our aged housing stock, then it must stimulate demand.
The National Energy Foundation’s Show Homes report explains how and why Show Homes and demonstrators do exactly this.
Julie Hirigoyen, CEO of the UK Green Building Council, recently pointed to the importance of “demonstrating what is possible and bringing retrofit to life”.
What better way is there to create demand than by supporting initiatives which are proven to work?
DIY insulation - what are the easiest options?
In this video Mark Brown of SuperHome59 talks us through some of the easiest options to DIY insulate your home. These include insulating the hot water tank and pipes, adding radiator foil, front door insulation and draught-proofing the letterbox and keyhole.
For more details of the changes Mark has made in his home, visit www.superhomes.org.uk/59
Reports, tools and guidance
Upgrading and insulating
traditional stone buildings
If you are exploring how to insulate a traditional stone building, you will find this helpful .
Anthony Gwynne of Forest of Dean Council has written a detailed report on upgrading stone buildings including how best to insulate them.
The Centre for Alternative Technology  also have experience of stone buildings in Wales and will be a helpful source of additional advice and case studies. They offer a free advice line.
Strategic & Industry reports
Recent months have seen the release of a number of more strategic reports:
 Retrofit Factfile – making the case for retrofit
 Housing retrofits – a new start (Energy Technologies Institute)
 Each Home Counts – Bonfield Review
 Solid Wall Insulation – Unlocking Demand and Driving up Standards – Hansford
 Solar shading impact report (BBSA)
Do take advantage of our SuperHomes case studies (you can search by technologies installed), our video flythroughs, eco renovation FAQ articles and our SuperHome Q&As where SuperHomes respond to questions drilling down into what really worked during their home refurbishment. We’ve just added a couple of interesting FAQs for you to explore:
On our sister site - the YouGen Blog
We’ve answered a lot of questions on our sister website, YouGen, since our last news update. You can scan some of the highlights below.
The flurry of articles we wrote introducing SuperHomes and their owners during our open days last autumn is well worth revisiting:
 There is magic to the fabric: going all out with insulation
 How can smart controls help you get more out of a SuperHome?
 How creative can you get with rainwater harvesting?
 What works when planning a major refurbishment project?
 What can you do to make an old cold home a cosy home?
 How a car fanatic transformed his 1960s home for greater efficiency
We owe a special debt of gratitude to SuperHomers Mark Brown and Stewart Mcilroy for making this winter a particular interesting time on the YouGen blog for anyone considering a biomass boiler or wood stove. Topics covered included installation, servicing, compliance, fuel storage and buying woodland, plus lighter topics like ash, keeping a full log box, hygge, happiness and the real wood fire experience. Enjoy access to all these biomass blogs here at no extra charge!
YouGen has covered a range of retrofit topics over recent months. Browse and enjoy:
 How will degree days help you measure energy savings?
 Draught proofing – how much could you save?
 Are sunpipes the solution to dark rooms and stairwells?
 External vs internal wall insulation: Which is best?
 Why zone your heating?
 What is the best way to insulate a loft conversion?
 Heat pumps: Air source or ground source?
 Is boarding a loft with LoftZone the easier option?
There is a wide range of training available in retrofit, renewables, Passivhaus and energy assessment. For details of what’s available, see The Retrofit Academy, Parity Projects , AECB, LILI, The Green Register, SPAB, CAT, BRE, STBA and NES.
Energise Open Homes
Carbon Coop are doing some really exciting work up in Manchester and this includes providing Open Home events from Fri 31 Mar – Sun 2 Apr  as part of the Energise Festival. The festival promises a day of music, food, talks, workshops, poetry, theatre, films, family friendly activities and more. But you’ll notice there are some serious environmental themes and opportunities sandwiched between the festivities. Moreover, four SuperHomes are participating in the Open Days. Book for a tour here . Get inspired, learn practical skills and have fun.  Highly recommended.
We hope you find these news updates helpful. Please email us any ideas for other things you’d like to see included, and do help us spread the news via social media.
John, Gordon, Camille, Gabby