SuperHome Database

Essex, Colchester, Alresford, Station Road

House Summary

Owner(s):
Sue and Barry Hammick

House Type:
Late 1950's bungalow

Carbon saving:
82% - SuperHomes Assessed  


  • Hammick SH PV
  • HO and air to air system

Measures installed:

  • Double Glazing
  • Floor Insulation
  • Heat Pump (Air Source)
  • Loft Insulation
  • Low Energy Appliances
  • Low Energy Lighting
  • Solar PV Panels
  • Water Saving Devices
  • Wood Stove

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

"Many features, very helpful comments, friendly couple"

Personal story:

Sue and Barry have a desire to live a simple life… which ironically takes a great deal of planning and time to achieve. Sue has turned her interests in gardening into vegetable and fruit production to try and produce as much food as possible for the family. Whereas Barry has undergone a complete shift away from office work into more outdoor pursuits such as woodland management, bushcraft and outdoor education. The couple have both completed courses in Permaculture and are using their Diploma journey as a means of changing their lives yet further.

Motivations:

As the children have grown and moved on to the beginnings of their own lives it was time to downsize the house and increase the growing space. The need to be within an easy commute of Colchester gave the starting point of the search that ended with something neither of them expected to buy… a bungalow.

Train and bus services are literally a stones throw from the front door but it was the house itself that was the main draw. A south facing roof, no insulation and outdated means of heating in the form of storage heaters proved to be a good challenge to take on. Structurally sound but crying out for modernisation it was a project that could be tackled in stages.

Moving in to the property in April 2013 proved to be the right time as bitterly cold spring temperatures highlighted immediately how ineffective the existing heating was against leaky windows and suspended wooden floors. Just six months later and lots of hard work completed we were proud to gain the status of the 175th Super Home in the country.

Property background:

The bungalow dates to the 1950’s but underwent extension during the 1980’s. Part of the extension work took the form of a flat roof add-on to provide an extra bedroom but all areas retained the format of a suspended wooden floor. The first viewing took place in January 2013 when the ground was thick with snow and the house had not been heated for several months. However, it wasn’t until we moved in during April 2013 in unseasonably cold weather that we appreciated the full extent of the work needed to make the house feel warm and comfortable.

Key changes made:

The first item on the list was insulation, insulation and insulation. The Cavity Walls were checked to ensure they were up to standard. Then the loft space was insulated to the full up-to-date recommendations. And finally the task of lifting all the floorboards to insulate in between the joists was started. This work was all carried out during the summer of 2013 along with other items such as the installation of the new double glazing. As the heating system was going to be air based it was important to ensure as much heat as possible was kept inside.

Measures installed in detail:

  • New Double Glazing
  • Loft insulation taken up to 270mm recommendation
  • Floors lifted and sheep wool / Celotex insulation added
  • Air to Air Heating System
  • 4Kw Photovoltaic system installed
  • 5Kw wood burner
  • All low energy bulbs fitted
  • Low energy appliances
  • Waterbutts installed and plan for grey water recovery
  • Whole house ventilation system
  • Hard water treatment system
  • Greenhouse and potting shed
  • Chickens
  • Allotment nearby
  • Woodland access – firewood supply
Benefits of work carried out:

The house feels cosy and peaceful. All usual winter involves the Air to Air heating running from 7am until 4:30pm at a constant 19c. After this time we switch to the woodburner which operates from firewood that we collect and store several seasons in advance so it is well seasoned before use. The residual air temperature from the Air to Air system and the woodburner combined with the EcoFan that sits on top is enough to keep the house warm until bed time when all heating stops for the night.

Over the last few years we have been tracking the cost of bills and of course the Feed In Tariff gained from the Solar Panels. The result of all the work has been we are effectively living for free as the Feed In Tariff generates approximately twice as much revenue as our electricity bill.

Favourite feature:

The focal point of the house has to be the woodburner. It is something that has travelled with us between properties and we can’t imagine living without one. It gives a true feeling of life to bricks and mortar, and when you can source wood for free rather than buy it the benefits of heating your house for free is a warming sensation in itself.

Common questions and answers for this SuperHome


What made you go for the Celotex / Sheep's Wool combo for the floor insulation?+

We spent a long time researching the best way to insulate our suspended wooden floor and came up with the combination as the best option for our parameters.  The floor has only about 15cm of crawl space under the joist with a further 10cm depth of the joist itself so we knew straight away insulating from above was going to be the only option.  As this meant all the floor boards had to come up it seemed sensible to go with something with the highest insulating value as possible.  With this in mind we went for putting zinc screws into the joists 2cm up from the bottom edge and then fitting 8cm Celotex board wedged tight in between with the screws stopping it dropping any lower than level with the top of the joist.

Round the outside edges of the room where it is too narrow to practically fit the Celotex we originally went with recommendations from others and used expanding foam.  After the first can we scrapped that idea as it stinks, is incredibly sticky, very expensive and frankly went against our desire to not use chemicals whenever possible.  We had bought Sheep’s Wool to cram into the inevitable tiny gaps between the joists and Celotex where cutting hadn’t gone dead straight from top to bottom of the joist so we started experimenting with using it instead of the foam.  We’ve spent the winter living with the subfloor we put back down to be sure the combination has worked well before fitting a final floor this coming spring.  Although we haven’t had the coldest of winters as yet we’re very happy with the results and can certainly tell the difference in the two rooms we are yet to tackle.

Why did you opt for an air source heat pump?+

Our property when we moved in was heated by 4 Storage Heaters and the hot water was supplied by the immersion heater as there was no gas main into our house despite it being available in the village.  This meant that any options that required radiators to be plumbed in was going to be a major upheaval not to mention expensive so we started to look elsewhere.

We were already aware of Air to Water Heat Pumps but as we didn’t have radiators this was of limited interest but it did lead us to the Air to Air option which combined with PV Solar Panels has proven to be a very cost-effective installation that suits our needs.

Has your air source heat pump lived up to expectations? Is is reliable, quiet, efficient?+

The answer is yes, although the caveat we would place on this is that this winter just gone was not particularly demanding on the system and, being air based, insulation to trap in the warmth/air is of the utmost importance.

The outside unit is where all the work happens in terms of noise so it does emit a hum which isn’t intrusive but likewise is not silent.  It isn’t loud enough to annoy us or neighbours and it also isn’t continuous as it merely works when it needs to.

The indoor units simply blow out the air which you can control the speed of so they can be very quiet or a little noisy depending on how enthusiastically you run them.  Used sensibly (i.e. leaving on to give a constant trickle of warmth) has them running very peacefully and backed up by the woodburner we’ve been really happy.

Who installed your air source heat pump and would you recommend them?+

We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the company we used – Delta Refrigeration. We spoke with Michael Cosham there.  It was his son that installed our system along with a team and it was all done in one day very quickly with no fuss.

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.

Unassessed

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.