SuperHome Database

Buckingham, Thornborough, Bridge St, The Firs

House Summary

Palie and Robert Smart
House Type:
Originally two farm-workers cottages (Circa 1930's)
Carbon saving:
67% - SuperHomes Assessed  
Reported saving on bills:
Total invested:

Measures installed:

  • Ceiling insulation
  • Condensing boiler
  • Draught-proofing
  • Floor Insulation
  • Loft Insulation
  • Low Energy Appliances
  • Low Energy Lighting
  • Solar PV Panels
  • Solar Water Heating
  • Water Saving Devices
  • Wood Stove

  • SH_Thornborough_Rob_Smart_2
  • SH_Thornborough_wood_chopping
  • SH_Thornborough_Veg_Garden
  • SH_Thornborough_Roof_Panels
  • SuperHome – Electric Car Rob SMART

Upcoming events

For this years (September 2016) opening we will try to demonstrate the importance of ventilation in home retrofit and the intention is demonstrate Air Pressurisation Test techniques during our opening day, as an simple, achievable and affordable ventilation strategy to compliment heating and insulation measures/solutions.

This will be in addition to demonstrating a selection of cost effective measures that can improve comfort, reduce carbon emissions and potentially add value to your home.

Ventilation will play an increasing important part in the UK as a potential retrofit measure, helping to ensure good air quality and reducing heat loss (and increasingly heat gain) from air movement through our homes.

What visitors are saying

"We really enjoyed the tour and the warm welcome. It's a lovely property with so many practical examples of ways to green both your home and your lifestyle on display. Impressed by the honesty about some of the choices made which wouldn't be repeated and loved the on-going projects - like the tree planting and meadow in the making."

"Great home and knowledgeable host. Beyond energy ... good illustration of sustainable living."

"Very enjoyable visit, showing great enthusiasm, knowledge, commitment and attention to detail. Could have spent many hours discussing all aspects..."

"Great to have a conversations with such a committed and enthusiastic advocate for environmental practice."

"Inspiring. Very good to see in situ and understand the practicalities."

"Interesting to see how an existing property can be made more energy efficient in practice.”

Personal story:

I’ve had a previous environmental role as a profession and now work as a sustainability officer with the local authority. My wife is an academic and we have two teenage children. Together we’ve been on quite a long journey. About 15 years ago I went to a conference full of so-called ‘sustainability experts’ who simply weren’t doing enough sustainable things themselves. I felt it was rather hopeless if the experts weren’t leading by example, so I started to search for alternatives and to consider what I could do by questioning more completely my relationship with my environment, growing my own food, reducing waste and so on. I started collecting data and bills to see the shape of our energy consumption and carbon footprint. My first probing into renewables at home was over ten years ago when we installed the solar thermal on the roof then, more recently, we had the PV fitted. Renewables can have quite an effect on energy consumption but only if accompanied by behavioural change by the whole family within the home.


Environmental first, cost savings second. The outcome has been a wonderful return on investment.

Property background:

Originally two farm-workers’ cottages (circa 1900s–1930s)part refurbished in 2003 and bought as a single detached property.

Measures installed in detail:

  • TRVs on radiators – foil fitted behind all external wall radiators (existing oil fired boiler)
  • Draught stripping: windows, doors, walls, liner in ceiling (£100)
  • Thermal curtains and blinds (£600, but wasn’t DIY)
  • Thick, interlapping oak flooring added throughout with insulation under the floor
  • Single skin anti-draught liner added under floorboards on first floor
  • 300mm loft insulation
  • Low energy lighting throughout including LEDs (£200)
  • Low energy appliances (replacing with quality A rated)
  • 4kW solar water heating (£3.5k) with new pressurised water store in loft
  • 1.7kWp solar PV system (£5.2k in 2010)
  • Two efficient wood burning stoves (£3k including chimney lining and cowls, free waste wood supply) reduce boiler use
  • Water saving devices include 3 water butts, water flow regulator on shower
Benefits of work carried out:

Increase thermal comfort and improved quality of life with a year on year reduction in water and energy use. We have a conventional oil fired boiler with a radiator system but this is used only very sparingly to heat what is generally preheated water from the solar thermal system. From what would be circa a minimum £1,600 oil and electric, based on the fact the property is larger than the average (£1,400 if gas and electric), we have saved (and continue to save) circa £900 per year. This is based on current costs. In its first year, solar PV has led to a 45% reduction in electricity costs and a bill of £15-20 per month.

Cost and carbon reductions, a feel good factor and a “active” (wood processing burns the calories!) quality of life.

Favourite feature:

Sustainable wood burning and solar hot water…

Project update:

15/05/14- Successful funding bid for a 2014/15 Eco Homes Open event.  Goal – 20 openers within the Vale of Aylesbury in May 31st/June 1st 2014. Hoping to link with awareness of a local authority lead Green Deal offer!

Opening in September 2014!

08/09/13- Working with other owners of SuperHomes to try to create an informal network within the Vale of Aylesbury.

Attempting to draw out connections to local Community (Voluntary) Energy Champion’s and (albeit) slowly emerging Green Deal provision.

Updated on 15/05/2014

Business name:


Business overview:

Not a business but a local voluntary initiative: SAVE (Support Aylesbury Vale’s Environment) is an active network of 150+ individuals. Many of these represent local community groups with Transition, environmental, waste, energy, conservation, economic, and social community interests, with a direct voice into local communities within the Vale.

Launched in 1994, SAVE operates to recognise, reward and encourage environmental good practice in Aylesbury Vale and includes an active membership of over 100 local environmental groups and active individuals within the Vale. SAVE is working to encourage SuperHomes to the Vale with a goal of ten by the end of 2013.

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.