SuperHome Database

Manchester, Chorlton Eco Show Home

House Summary

Kit Knowles
House Type:
1909 Arts and Crafts, Semi Detached
Carbon saving:
78% - SuperHomes Assessed  
Reported saving on bills:

Measures installed:

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

  • SuperHome, Chorltonville
  • chorltonville_kit_knowles_interior
  • SuperHome_Chorltonville_Bedroom
  • chorltonville_kit_knowles_back
  • chorltonville_kit_knowles_interior

Upcoming events

Your interest in attending an Open Day Event greatly encourages SuperHome owners. This owner has agreed to be contacted at any time of the year including scheduled open day events and if possible will accommodate a personal visit. Please contact this homeowner using the contact form below if you'd like to arrange a personal tour.

What visitors are saying

"Thank you for sharing your wonderful house, shows an excellent step in the right direction!"

"Fascinating and inspirational. All houses should be built like this! The management of energy was remarkable."

"Very interesting, especially from the viewpoint of cost. Some items not as pricey as I thought they might be."

"Inspirational. Please can I live here!"

"Incredible what you have achieved in a relatively short space of time. Thank you for showing us round your home."

“Very informative and helpful guide. Very prepared to discuss technologies and solutions.”

"We enjoyed our free-style exploring and found listening to the homeowner talking about the improvements that had been made very informative!"

"Beautiful home with really interesting technology and other features. Very informative and detailed discussion with Kit."

"Kit was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about all the tasks he has undertaken on his property. He has certainly given me useful information and things to think about."

"An excellent visit - I feel inspired again. Your enthusiasm came over strongly!"

"Impressive! Lots of new information to take in we never heard of."

"Very informative and definitely given a lot of food for thought. Beautiful, impressive house and good presentation/ explanation Thanks!"

"Came in thinking kitchens, left thinking about sorting the house! It's brilliant what you've done here - inspirational stuff and thought provoking."

"Thanks for an absorbing tour and lots of ideas to think about - a great inspiration."

"Fascinating project and thank you for excellent, understandable tour."

"Fascinating, Educational. So glad I made the effort."

"Inspirational and beautiful home with lots of good advice."

"Real eye opener! Very informative and clear info given."

"The physics of heat loss in homes was very interesting and will make me look at my house afresh - thank you."

"Very informative, free and easy access and inspiring ideas."

"Loved the multifaceted approaches and the beauty of the whole concept."

"Very comprehensive explanation of reasons for droughts and damp, made me have a complete rethink about energy and comfort."

"Fantastic info... Kit is extremely knowledgeable. Great tips and hints for fabric first thinking."


Having just completed my masters in Chemical Engineering I had a decision to make. Should I continue to work for companies like BP and AstraZeneca, following a typical high flying corporate career, but waking up each morning feeling like I am missing a little bit of my soul? The answer for me was to find a career that provided job satisfaction in knowing that I would be directly helping people and the environment. When deciding upon a low risk business model for my new sustainability consultancy we devised a route to market that utilised a show home. This enabled us to fully understand the market from the perspective of our clients. It forced us to test each of the hundreds of products required to create an eco retrofit home, to fully understand the complexities involved. The Sustainable Energy Academy helped us to satisfy the public demand for eco educational facilities, providing the incentive and guidance to organise open days. Public interest was reflected by the attendance of over 500 people during our first year.

Also see:
Measures installed in detail:

  • Triple glazing throughout including encapsulating existing Stained glass and leaded light windows
  • Extensive draught proofing and air tightness membranes used throughout
  • World first use of hybrid Spacetherm, Kooltherm K5 EWB Phenolic foam external insulation, U value 0.263 with just 5cm of insulation
  • 300mm organically bound glass fibre roof insulation, U value 0.123
  • 260mm glass wool floor insulation, U value 0.128
  • World first installation of Passivent’s iHybrid whole house Ventilation Heat Recovery system
  • 10kW high spec micro condensing boiler
  • 93% efficient Log burning stove
  • LED lighting throughout
  • All AA or AAA rated energy efficient appliances
  • Water saving devices includes; world first trial of a rainwater harvesting system driven via PV flushes loos and provides out door taps. We have all taps (bar the bath) with aeration technology and toilets are duel flushing 3/4.5l with examples of grey water recycling
  • 9kW thermal, 5kW electricity generation from hybrid Photovoltaic-Thermal Panels
  • Coming soon:
  • Low turbidity high performance thermal store with external heat exchangers
  • Weather compensation technology
Benefits of work carried out:

Now the home is complete we are benefiting from annual gas bills of £150 and annual electricity bills of £400. We have remarkably comfortable year round temperatures regally receiving comments from visitors along the lines of:

“Wow your house is so warm you must have put the heating on! I don’t believe that you haven’t put the heating on since February, its October!”

The general levels of maintenance are now unbelievably low, all the systems have 20+ year life spans, bringing down running costs and inconvenience. The design focus for the show home was on passive technologies, in fact bar a single room wood burning stove there are no renewables installed at all. The house uses standard A rated gas boiler and no heat pumps.

A big worry of potential converts to eco style living is any negative effects that ‘cutting back’ may have on their lifestyle. The over whelming result from our experience has been nothing but beneficial to our lifestyle.

Favourite feature:

The original concept behind the space we dub ‘The Solarium’ was to act as an area capable of capturing solar energy, storing it and distributing it as necessary both across space i.e. from the south to the north of the building and across time i.e. from midday to midnight. Additionally this was a critical area from an interiors perspective as it meant a joining of spaces designed today and those designed a century ago. To ensure the continuity of space was not broken by a lack of contiuity of design it required the original space to be modernised and the new space to be minimised, ensuring no severe contrast of style.

Business name:


Business overview:

Ecospheric is a sustainability consultancy based in Manchester specialising in domestic retrofit. They provide a wide range of services to suit every homeowner at every stage of their build, including energy assessments and specification creation/modification. They can also help organise all the services and contractors you need for your build or consult with your chosen professionals.

Led by SuperHomer Kit Knowles, the company is run out of his SuperHome in the conservation area of Chorltonville and features over 100 environmental and energy efficient tecnologies. It is regularly open to the public through the Superhome network, or will take private bookings of 4 or more throughout the year.

For more information, visit

Common questions and answers for this SuperHome

Which wood stoves did you fit, how efficient are they and how much did they cost?+

There are two stoves in our showhome.
1. The all signing all dancing 93% efficient Xeoos Twinfire 5kW, equipped with 150kg of thermal mass (hence the larger output), and fully direct air feed compatible, costing around £3600 for the device alone.
2. The 4kW Burley Debdale is much more cost friendly device (£550) boosting 89% efficiency, still direct air feed compatible, no thermal mass unfortunately so recommend installing it in an exposed brick/stone hearth and surround.
For a half way house between these two devices (cost and functionality wise) I also recommend DanSkan stoves (only those with their air box technology however), they have some fancy control and lovely modular thermal mass.



What did you consider when choosing your wood burning stoves?+

Stoves require air (oxygen) to burn and traditionally take this from within the room. Modern devices require three air streams, Primary, for the bulk of combustion, Secondary, to control the rate of burn and Tertiary, as a screen wash to keep the glass clean. Broadly speaking a wood burning stove is a bad item to have within a property if it takes any of the three air streams from within the room due to that massive cold infiltration it causes both within the room and throughout the rest of the property(especially when alight). This is where direct air feeds  (or outside air supplies) come in… Many devices are compatible, allowing a small pipe to be connected via a spigot on the back or bottom. This pipe either pops through the wall to the external leaf with a grill fitted or lead through the hearth when on a party wall and lead to the nearest air brick. Some devices are partially room sealed, so be careful to select only totally room sealed.

The stove should be 5kW or less. Above this you start to require a primary air feed, meaning a hole in your wall. Additionally over sizing devices is a really bad idea considering the first 20mins and the last 20mins of any burn are the most inefficiency. If your device is oversized then you will simply push these two phases together, adding in a deal of uncomfortable over heating to boot. Most rooms will have radiators sized between 1.5-3kW, designed at -3°C or -5°C exterior temperatures. It doesn’t make sense therefore, to put a secondary heating device in the same room with over twice the capacity.

In rural areas you require a device with smoke control exemption, else you can only burn smokeless fuels which are both expensive and awful for the environment.

Modern devices can achieve amazing performance levels, yet people still seem happy to purchase very inefficient old technologies. The sweet spot is 80%, above this you have a marked reduction in maintenance; less chimney cleaning, ash disposal and glass cleaning. Below 75% I seem to find lighting the stove to be more of an issue as the air flows within the chamber or not optimised. All in all more hassle than it is worth, efficiency matters.

A nice to have element is inclusion of thermal mass. This concept is simple, a proportion of all the heat generated is absorbed into the surrounding thermal mass rather than all kicked out into the room. This will enable you to burn for longer without having to starve the flame of oxygen to reduce its output. It will also mean that after the stove goes out it will still provide heat to the room for hours afterwards.

Who did you use for replacement windows and what was the cost?+

We used units from Estonian manufacturer Viking Windows who predominantly provide high specification units to the Nordic Market.

You can review their range below. To give a really rough idea of the cost differential between the products; the SW11 and DK88’s are similar in price at around 20% more than the Viking-12 and 10% less than the SW14.

Viking-12 (Uw = 1.2 W/m²K) – Outward opening double glazed unit

SW11 (Uw = 0.97 W/m²K) – Outward opening triple glazed unit

DK88 (Uw = 0.72-0.81 W/m²K) – Inward opening triple glazed unit

SW14 (Uw = 0.68 W/m²K) – Outward opening passive house certified unit

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.