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SuperHome Database

Wallingford, Reading Road, Glebe House – SUPERHOME 200

House Summary

Owner(s):
Dr Sue Roberts and Professor Richard Harding

House Type:
1960's two storey

Carbon saving:
62% - Remote Assessed  

Reported saving on bills:
60% recution in heating bills

Total invested:
£60,000


  • Sue Roberts at SuperHome 200
  • SH Wallingford 2
  • SR2 – SuperHome 200
  • SH Wallingford

Measures installed:

  • Condensing boiler
  • External Wall Insulation
  • Floor Insulation
  • Loft 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

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

"Incredibly inspirational to see such a range of interventions and invaluable to hear the realities of someone's experience!"

"Fabulous very informative, interesting and incredibly inspiring. Great to hear about technologies, suppliers and all the different things we could do."

"Very interesting. Thank you very much to Sue for her time and allowing us to see her lovely home."

"Really useful to hear about the real-life experience of doing this sort of work."

"Really enjoyed seeing a real-life retrofit."

"Very thorough explanation of issues involved with a retrofit project."

Personal story:

I met Richard, a widower, in 2006. He wooed me with tales of climate change and cataclysmic disaster, and we married in 2011.

A friend told us that Glebe House, exactly half way between each of our old homes, was for sale: “I have seen the house you should buy, but it is very ugly”. It had the garden Richard wanted and the Wallingford town centre position I wanted.

We worked for over one and a half years (2013-2014), on renovations to make the house warmer and to improve the internal spaces. After suffering a rogue builder who fleeced us of massive amounts of cash, we had to learn a lot about building, to manage the project ourselves.

This winter, we had the garden landscaped to protect us from the noise of the road, producing one pond for wildlife, and one pond for me to swim in. (The ducks keep getting this rule muddled). Richard grows food in the garden, and the lawn is a wildflower meadow, with flowerbeds full of plants to encourage wildlife.

Motivations:

Richard is a retired director of climate change research at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. After I met him, I began a new career as a domestic energy efficiency advisor, running Ecomorph, within the construct of the ill-fated Green Deal.

We have joint concern for our ravaged planet, and wanted to renovate our house as a model ecofit, showing what could be done with such a prevalent home type as a 1960s house.

We transformed the house and garden, converting the loft into a large living space and re-arranging the interior. Insulation was the priority, and although the house already had filled cavity walls, we super-insulated with thorough loft insulation, and external wall cladding.

The ecofit was designed to reduce our carbon footprint dramatically, whilst increasing the comfort and the aesthetic of the house. Many people think it is a new house, due to the complete change in the facade from external wall insulation.

Property background:

This house was freezing! The windows upstairs were the originals: single-glazed, draughty windows with rotten wood frames. There was a strange dormer from the gigantic master bedroom, which flew over a patio space beneath. Its ‘cheeks’ were barely insulated.

There was minimal loft insulation, and an old boiler-room that infringed on the kitchen space and was a terrible heat-loss area, shining brightly red on the thermal camera.

Most miserable was the outdoor space. A back garden given over to featureless grass and a dying pear tree, with rubbish piled up in a corner. The grass had been used as a carpark, and the carport between the house and garage used as a throughway, for cars, and, as it turned out, for the howling gale and road-noises that rushed through it. The front garden was tarmac and useless earth mounds.

We got the keys to the house on a damp, mild November day in 2010 and promptly went on holiday. We returned to a frozen Wallingford, gradually defrosted the house, and went out for a couple of hours. On our return there was a monsoon in the kitchen. The mains feed to the coldwater tank had burst.

We camped out for 2 years in a patched-up home, planning refurbishments. One was definitely to convert the loft and replace the cold water tank with a mains-pressure cylinder on the ground floor where it could do less damage.

Key changes made:

  • Floor insulation including St Lucian’s Skirt
  • Roof room and flat roof insulation
  • Log burning stoves
  • Low energy lighting
  • PV to the east and west, now with batteries!
  • Roof insulation
  • Solar water heating
  • Triple Glazing
  • Water saving devices
  • Whole House Ventilation Heat Recovery system
  • Insulated doors
  • Rainwater harvesting
Measures installed in detail:

  • Roof room insulation – phenolics (eg Celotex) to rafters, backfilling with rockwool; u-values 0.1-0.2
  • Flat roof insulation with phenolics and rockwool ‘warm roof’, u-value 0.09
  • External wall insulation over filled cavity walls: 100mm Kingspan on outside; cost £25K, final wall u-value 0.17
  • Floor insulation where possible, and St Lucian’s Skirt of polystyrene around the perimeter; u-values 0.13-0.39
  • Triple Glazing Argon filled £23500, u=0.9 and insulated doors u=1.4.
  • Whole House Ventilation Heat Recovery System: wonderful!
  • Low energy LED lighting
  • Induction hob, and AAA rated electrical appliances
  • Two sets of PV, each of 4 kWp (16 panels), facing east and west
  • Batteries to store 4kWh of PV-generated electricity
  • Solar water heating using low-cost invention of Ed Atkinson
  • Log burning stoves in kitchen and living room
  • Condensing boiler: zoned heating and rads with TRVs
  • Rain water harvesting for toilets,outside taps,and washing machine
  • Water saving circulation pump to bring hot water across house, attachments to showers, replaced mains pipe
  • Natural swimming pool
  • Filtration pond to encourage wildlife
  • Gardening for biodiversity
Benefits of work carried out:

The new layout has helped to open up the house, transforming the kitchen and loft space. The outside of the house is beautiful to look upon. Our winters are now warm and our summers cool thanks to proper insulation and ventilation.

I love the triple glazed windows which seal with a sucking in of breath, protecting us from the world outside. It has also greatly reduced road-noise.

Wildlife-friendly improvements to the garden give a feast to the eye with colourful flowers and fruits and an engaged insect population; bumble-bees rolling delightedly in the poppies.

Favourite feature:

We have just installed batteries for the 8kWp of solar panels. This is such an exciting move forwards. Although they are only lead acid (we couldn’t afford lithium), they provide 4kWh of storage. This is enough to tide us over the summer nights, and also to smooth out usage during the day.

What I mean by that, is that if you put the washing machine on and then the sun goes behind a cloud, the batteries take over until the PV clocks back in again.

Project update:

Batteries! Hoorah! We got them up and running yesterday, and they are feeding of the 8kWp of solar panels that we have on the east and west roofs.

We have imported zero electricity in the last 24 hours.

Updated on 13/07/2016

Business name:

Ecomorph

Business overview:

Ecomorph is the energy efficiency advice service set up by SuperHomer Sue Roberts to help householders reduce their bills and carbon emissions. The company can arrange domestic energy surveys with Energy Performance Certificates. The service dovetails with the refurbishment of Glebe House, where ideas were tested. For more information see www.ecomorph.org

Ecomorph Sml

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.