SuperHome Database

Coventry, Coventry Road, Castle Farm Cottage

House Summary

Melody Stokes
House Type:
Pre 1870 detached
Carbon saving:
75% - SuperHomes Assessed  

Measures installed:

  • Condensing boiler
  • Double Glazing
  • Draught-proofing
  • External Wall Insulation
  • Floor Insulation
  • Internal Wall Insulation
  • Loft Insulation
  • Low Energy Appliances
  • Low Energy Lighting
  • Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery
  • Solar PV Panels
  • Solar Water Heating
  • Water Saving Devices
  • Wood Stove

  • Coventry SH PV

Upcoming events

Early interest in Open Days encourages SuperHome owners to host more events. If you'd like to visit this property please contact the owner and let them know. SuperHomers are often happy to respond to questions about their refurbishment project by email between times. Please read ‘more on contacting this SuperHomer’ before you make contact.

What visitors are saying

“Particularly helpful to see the different materials and technologies in action. Thank you.”

Personal story:

We are technical people – boring engineers with a passion for new and exciting ideas and bits of kit! We are also rural by nature and wanted to live in a cottage in the country (but close to civilisation). We have landed in the Midlands by accident but have been here for 16 years and raised two children, who have now moved out to refurbish their own houses. Our home is by a little stream in leafy Warwickshire, on a footpath that leads out into the fields.
We have been interested in sustainable energy for decades and want to do our bit for the planet,as they say. Saving energy and generating our own is a hobby and a challenge.


We moved to our cottage in 1996. It was heated by an ancient coal/wood burning Raeburn (called Bertha!) and an open fire in the lounge which ejected smoke into the bedroom above. It was exceptionally cold and suffered badly from damp and mould. As part of our ongoing improvements, we have chipped away at reducing our energy demand, improving the building fabric where we could (challenged by solid walls and being in a conservation area, refused permission for exterior insulation). Bertha the boiler was whisked off to New Zealand via Ebay and replaced by a condensing gas boiler. The chimney was fixed and a wood burner added. We now generate heat and power from the sun. Our journey has definitely been step by step and we keep going – more out of fun and we enjoy the technical challenge of cutting our footprint.

Property background:

The cottage was probably built around 1800. It was part of a farm complex, housing the farm manager or labourers. It is made of solid red brick walls, with old clay tiles on the roof. The house has four unusually large chimneys. It has an older Victorian extension which possibly started out as a lean-to toilet or kitchen but at some time had a second storey added, also in solid brick and with interesting brick detail. The cottage sits in a conservation area and the local Heritage Officer is keen on the looks of the building (typical of the old original Warwickhsire style). It sits in the heart of a coalfield and almost certainly has always been heated by wood and coal.

Key changes made:

We replaced the solid fuel Raeburn with a condensing gas boiler (added the gas connection). We double-glazed throughout. We have added solar PV and solar thermal panels on our lovely south-facing roof. We have reduced lighting demand with low-energy bulbs and LEDs. We shaved a third off our gas bills just by being careful with the timer settings and through making the most of the solar hot water. We are trialling heat recovery ventilation and also some time + temperature radiator valves – so we have a heating profile for every room. We have also tried a range of thin internal wall insulation and hemp fibres for loft insulation. There’s still loads more to do!

Measures installed in detail:

• Condensing gas boiler with new controls fitted (room thermostat + timer). More recently time/temperature control units (iTerrier) fitted on top of radiator TRVs
• Double glazed wooden framed windows
• Draught proofing improved with new windows
• One room insulated with Sempatap internal wall insulation on external walls
• Closed cell PU foam added under carpet and floorboards in two ground floor rooms
• Internal wall insulation (12mm) on lounge external walls
• 270mm loft insulation (mix of original mineral wool with hemp batts over the top)
• Low energy appliances include A-rated washing machine and fridge, low energy kettle and Remoska cooking unit
• Low energy lighting throughout
• Whole House Ventilation Heat Recovery system
• 1.8kWp Sharp PV system
• 2 panel evacuated tube Vaillant solar thermal system fitted along with large insulated unvented hot water tank
• Water saving devices include modern reduced flush cistern toilet
• 8kW Wood burner
• Other measures installed; open chimneys blocked,  key holes covered, new porch on front door

Benefits of work carried out:

The house doesn’t suffer from damp and mould and is much cosier and quicker to warm up. It uses far less energy, so the gas + electricty bills are much lower (gas by a third and power is minimal due to the PV).

Favourite feature:

The solar PV has to be the favourite! It really works and generates more than expected. The Feed In Tariff cheque is also wonderful every quarter. I love to hear the invertor at full tilt on a sunny day. It just feels right to be living under our own roof, generating our own electricty.
The only downside was that the squirrels thought is would be a lovely place to live – we had to persuade them to nest in the trees instead.

Project update:

We’ve just had some internal insulation fitted in our lounge, on the external walls. This was installed for us by Abbott Damp-proofing (; they have done an excellent job and used a brand new product of their own design. It is aroud 12mm thick and has been shown to improve thernal insulation by over a third. We certainly notice that the room is no longer like walking into a freezer in the evenings and it heats up much faster. The finish was superb – the plastering is immaculate and the insulation fits neatly behind the radiator.

Since installing this extra layer of insulation, we’ve been checking our gas consumption and can clearly see a difference.

Updated on 16/02/2013

Common questions and answers for this SuperHome

Are you happy with the thin internal wall insulation you've used?+

We were very pleased with the thin insulation that Abbotts provided. It definitely doesn’t stop nearly as much heat loss as the thicker insulation (should be up to 300mm for solid walls) but it does seem to take the edge off the heat loss.

The biggest bonus for us has been that a couple of our rooms don’t get much sun and tended to suffer from mould due to condensation. Even the thin insulation is enough to stop the walls getting to the low temperatures at which condensation forms and helps to stop the mould growth.

We also used a product called Sempatap which works just as well but it’s a real devil of a job to install.

In our house, we couldn’t get planning permission for external solid wall insulation (conservation area) and there’s no room inside for the full thickness.  Some people use a combination, with internal insulation on the front, more public facade and external on the rear and side elevations (usually rednered over but can have brick slips).

Abbotts Damproofing are very good – their plastering and finishing are brilliant and they’re lovely people. Abbotts is operated by David Prince. His brother does the plastering and his son also works in the business – they’re based over in Derby.

Contact this homeowner

Assessment types

SuperHomes Assessed

A home that has been visited and assessed by us and confirmed as reaching the SuperHome standard, which demonstrates a 60% carbon saving.

Homeowner Reported

Information has been provided by the homeowner about their home and energy use prior to the installation of measures and following their installation which demonstrates a carbon saving. This information has not been verified.

Remote Assessed

The homeowner has provided information on their home including what measures have been installed which has enables an assessor working on our behalf to assess their carbon savings. This home has not been visited to verify the measures installed.


This home has not been assessed, but the homeowner has reported what measures have been installed. It may be that this home is awaiting assessment.