We are Penney Poyzer and Gil Schalom. Penney has been known as an environmental activist and campaigner for many years and presented BBC2’s first environmental show for householders No Waste Like Home. Gil Schalom is an architect specialising in ultra low energy design for both retrofit and new build. Penney and Gil have won many awards for their home which they share with their daughter Jasmine aged 9. In 2012 the couple received an award recognising them as the pioneers of the energy retrofit movement. They began their journey to retrofit their Victorian Home in 1998.
We began our retrofit journey back in 1998 because we realised that whilst new ecohomes were being built nothing was being done about the millions of existing badly performing homes across the UK. We bought a poorly maintained Victorian semi which was a former student house. It had no central heating, was covered in mould and a lot of polystyrene tiles.
Our motivations were to see how far we could achieve autonomy in energy, water and food through retrofitting these systems into an old house and to see how far we could integrate these life support systems. We have achieved autonomy is some areas such as rainwater management and central heating. We continue to improve our home and to challenge our own ideas in the pursuit of living the lowest impact life that we can.
The house is a classic semi-detached, VIctorian villa of brick and slate construction, built in 1898. We purchased the house in April 1998 for 84,500. It was in a very run down state and had been a student house for at least a decade. There was no central heating, just very expensive direct electric heating, damp, mould, spoiling brickwork, subsidence – in short everything was in a very poor state.
Our favourite features are the newly installed triple glazed, wooden sliding sash windows that have transformed the front elevation of the house and made a tremendous difference to comfort and enjoyment. Being able to open up the sashes in the south facing sitting room and eating lunch at the table with sunlight pouring in is just lovely, it feels like being on holiday.
We have recently installed new wooden triple glazed sash windows and high performance front door. Also further improvements to airtightness measures in cellar.
Updated on 02/09/2015