SuperHome Database

Wiltshire, Winterbourne Bassett, Fox Row

House Summary

Claire and Damian Le Gresley

House Type:
1997 detached 2 storey

Carbon saving:
69% - SuperHomes Assessed  

  • Wiltshire SH
  • Biomass Boiler
  • Recycled Newspaper Loft insulation
  • Wood burning stove

Measures installed:

  • Biomass Boiler
  • Double Glazing
  • Draught-proofing
  • Loft Insulation
  • Low Energy Appliances
  • Low Energy Lighting
  • Other renewable energy technologies
  • Solar Water Heating
  • 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.

Personal story:

We are a married couple in our thirties and bought this house as a family home. By trade we are a software engineering manager, and a pharmacist. We’ve always loved the outdoors – we used to compete at archery, have climbed many mountains together, and, when we eventually got a garden, gardening. We grow veg and we have “lawn” chickens at home. We like good food and largely cook from scratch as much as possible with organic produce as far as possible. We’ve adopted a plant based reducetarian/flexitarian diet for health as well as shrinking our carbon footprint and contribution to soil degradation. Improving our sustainability and “futureproofing” have increasingly permeated our life together.

We can’t quite remember exactly where our retrofit journey began… One evening on our 2005 honeymoon in Australia we arrived at that night’s lodgings in a thunderstorm and torrential rain. The owner of this B&B took pride in his 50,000 (that might be an exaggeration on the part of our memory) litre rain tanks under the self-built house. He said these were a safety blanket for the dry season. This, and staying in one or two other “off-grid” locations is what probably first got us really thinking…

We’d lived in our first little house, an 8 year old 2-bed terrace, for two years but apart from replacing a panel in the back door to get rid of a draughty cat flap, we had not paid home energy efficiency too much attention. But a switch had been flicked in our minds and once home again and back to the reality of life as a young couple we read a couple of books on “eco-renovating” and “off-grid living”, and found it all made good sense. We said to ourselves “of course in our next house we’ll definitely do it all!”

When we did eventually move, the location, affordability and space/size were the key factors in our property choices not the practicalites of any future grand eco-retrofit…

Our eventual purchase was a relative new build, off the gas grid and oil-heated, but with an open fire and a conservatory not separated from the house by doors – bye-bye heat! With hindsight we might also have discounted properties with east-west facing pitched roofs, integral garages etc but beggars cannot be choosers…and some things can turn out to be blessings in disguise. At least the house came with a huge greenhouse!

Within days of moving in that January we really set off on our eco-retrofit journey when we bought some thermally lined curtains to shut off the (thankfully unheated) conservatory a bit. Then we topped up the loft insulation and looked into getting a wood burner and then…and then…and then…and then…and we are not done yet. As yet we’ve not got round to installing rainwater tanks either but watch this space!


Our reasons for choosing to do this are a combination of not being able to ignore the compelling need to act to try and avert a harmful level of climate change, and moving towards a way of life that copes better with the scarcity and expense of resources, particularly fossil fuels, we will inevitably have to face.

Also see:
Property background:

Our house was built around 1997, and has insulated cavity walls as built. Originally the central heating and hot water were oil fired with a non-condensing boiler which had not been replaced when we moved-in in January 2007. We are not on mains gas. There were cylinder and room thermostats but no thermostatic radiator valves to individually control the radiators. An cast iron fireplace and grate for solid fuel was in place in the lounge but the chimney lining had been incorrectly installed and leaked smoke into the loft when tested. It was hard to burn logs without coal and the heat output was pretty feeble anyway. Previous occupants had built a conservatory, unheated fortunately, onto the back of the lounge where there had been double doors to the garden – but the two spaces were left unseparated. I bought some thermal curtains to go across the archway the day we moved in but these were never going to cut it! Aside from the wet rooms, the house was carpeted throughout and with underlay. The house was double glazed throughout in the original trickle-vented wood frames which were draught-stripped but the units only had an 8mm gap between the two panes of ordinary glass (u-value = 3 at best.) One or two units were already failed and misted up. The wooden half glazed front and back doors are not well insulated and draughty. In the loft there was a patchy covering of mineral wool insulation between the joists to a depth of about 150mm – particularly underneath boarded areas some parts were completely bare! A kitchen refit had left large areas of wall under the freestanding units with no skirting and various gaps in the floors/walls where various pipes and ducting emerged. There was no cooker hood just electric wall vents and in the bathrooms too ventilation was switched on or off only by a manual switch. One of the bedrooms is above the garage and tends to be a colder room but at the moment it is just a guest bedroom.

Key changes made:

2011 (when joining SuperHomes)
1) Installing the solar thermal system reduced our heating oil- consumption around a third – once fitted the heat energy is free.
2) Installing a wood pellet boiler to replace the 15 year old non-condensing oil boiler. The old boiler was comparatively inefficient and probably on borrowed time. With heating oil prices already volatile we decided to change to a fuel which is potentially more sustainable. We are now receiving quarterly rebate funding from the Renewable Heat Initiative (RHI) scheme in addition to the Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) received shortly after installation.
3) Dividing our unheated conservatory from the lounge with external-type doors – we imagine this has saved a great deal on our heating bills and certainly improved our winter comfort as did replacing the open fire with a woodburner.
4) Increasing depth of loft insulation from a patchy 150mm to a full covering to 250mm plus insulating and draught sealing the loft-hatch – addressing the major source of heat loss from the house.

1) New utility / drying room built at back of garage to allow kitchen to be extended into original utility room. Extension built to exceed building standards with triple glazed Velux roof windows.
2) Hot water underfloor heating fitted throughout downstairs of house drawing from the thermal store we fitted a few years before (glad we planned ahead with the necessary extra connections!). Nu-Heat room thermostats and iOS app control.
3) 24/7 mechanical ventilation installed in kitchen, utility and both upstairs bathrooms to replace noisy and inefficient extractor fans. Central extract unit in the loft. Air in our house is much drier as a result.
4) Rear window replaced with Velfac triple-glazed french door to provide access from extended kitchen out onto decking area.

1) New Solidor front door (48mm solid wood with plastic weather coating) installed to vastly reduce draughts in the hallway.

1) Replacement of all windows with Internorm timber/aluminium triple glazed units (4/18Ar/4/18Ar/4), with u-value approx 0.7 W/m2K

1) Installed 1kWp solar PV on shed
2) Installed 4kWh Powervault home battery storage
3) Installed 2x EV chargers

Measures installed in detail:

  • Loft insulation top-up to 250mm with loose-fill recycled cellulose. Loft hatch insulated and draught-stripped.
  • Solar thermal system – flat-plate collectors and 250l thermal store.
  • Installed woodburner with insulated flue liner in previously open fireplace.
  • Wood pellet boiler replacing non-condensing oil boiler.
  • Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs) or LED lights fitted throughout
  • Low energy and water consumption dishwasher with hot feed.
  • Exterior-type double glazed doors dividing unheated conservatory from lounge. Thermal lined curtains and blinds.
  • Water saving devices fitted to toilet cisterns or replaced with dual-flush.
  • Aerating and flow rate limiting mixer taps and showers. Replaced electric shower with mixer shower.
  • Whole-house water softener to improve efficiency of heating and reduce amount of cleaning products required.
  • Underfloor heating installed throughout downstairs of property with ‘Smart’ room thermostats
  • ‘Smart’ radiator control valves installed throughout upstairs of property
  • Low energy fridge-freezer and washing machine
  • Aereco permanent mechanical extract ventilation from all wet rooms via loft mounted ‘VAM’ fan unit
  • Triple glazed Velfac french door (u-value 1.00) and Velux roof windows installed during kitchen extension
  • LED lighting installed throughout kitchen and utility, incl motion sensitive lights in utility
  • Low u-value Solidor 48mm solid wood front door installed
  • Replacement of all windows with Internorm timber/aluminium triple glazed units (4/18Ar/4/18Ar/4), with u-value approx 0.7 W/m2K
  • 1kWp Plug-in Solar pV panels on shed
  • Electric vehicle charging points
  • Powervault 4kWh home battery storage
Project update:

So excited about our latest carbon saving project…we bought a plug-in solar pV kit and installed the panels on our new shed that has a south facing roof. This easily covers the base load of the house (the electricity demand from the “always on” things like the fridge freezer and ventilation) during the day. We recently bought our first all electric car, a VW eUp!, so in the absence of a feed-in-tariff we can store the excess power we are generating and use less fuel. Hoping to move onto vehicle-to-grid technology, when it comes to market, to power the house from self-generation 24/7, plus change the other car to something that can tow with 200+ mile range.

Updated on 01/05/2019

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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.