Last summer I had the pleasure of giving Greg Barker MP Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, a tour of my home. And if you thought I only open my home for Royalty and the occasional passing MP well you’d be wrong. As it happens Greg was the 98th visitor to take a guided tour of my now officially named Super Home.
And if you’re interested you could be one of the next to visit as we’re having our next opening on Saturday the17th March
For those of you that haven’t heard of the Super Home network itâ€™s a group of over 116 homes across the UK who have all had an energy efficiency update, slashing their carbon emission by at least 60%. In our case weâ€™ve cut CO2 emissions by 75%.
But more than just being smug warm homeowners, the Super Homers are encouraged to open their doors twice a year and welcome guests for a guided tour of their home, to talk through the refurbishment process and to experience first hand the impact that cutting edge materials and technology can have on the quality of life at home.
The updated homes include the latest in eco-innovations, such as ground source heat pumps, heat recovery systems, photo-voltaics, low energy LED lighting, in addition to energy saving measures such as solid wall insulation and internal insulation, using environmentally friendly fabrics such as sheepâ€™s wool and recycled glass work surfaces. If you want to know more about the future homes that weâ€™ll be living in, well this is a good, realistic and aspirational place to start.
Why is the Super Homes network so important? Well, between now and 2020 we need to refurbish 23 million homes to meet carbon reduction targets. This is a daunting statistic that when broken down means that we need to refurbish over 8,500 homes everyday. That’s going to be a mammoth task, and one that the home owners will really need to get behind to make work.
The SuperHomes Network harnesses the enthusiasm and experience of energy saving pioneers to bring examples of successful sustainable refurbishment to the widest possible audience. And the uptake home improvement of those that visit is really impressive.
If youÂ already know youÂ want to make energy efficiency improvements to your home, but you’re not sure where to start, check out the quick tips on the Great British RefurbÂ websiteÂ hereÂ or visit the SuperHomes websiteÂ forÂ tips on theÂ most suitableÂ options for your property.Â The SuperHomers have also started a fantastic database calledÂ ‘My Green Builder’Â which is a list of installers, suppliers, advisors and general builders who have carried out energy efficiency retrofit work on some of the houses in the SuperHome Network. Each tradesperson in the database has been reviewed byÂ a SuperHomer so it’s designed to help you to find suitable tradespeople in your area who can help youÂ make improvements in your own home.
John Doggart of the Sustainable Energy Academy (the SEA) who organise the SuperHome network, says the benefits of visiting a Super home are that â€œit gives visitors a â€˜touch and feelâ€™ experience. Before people have experienced a low carbon home, they usually think itâ€™s a good idea, but not necessarily for them. Once theyâ€™ve visited a SuperHome, they see how they can do it in their own home. Marketing people call it salience. The opportunity to touch and feel convinces people of a reality in a way that words or megaphone messages canâ€™t. Seeing is believing.
Also, the fact theyâ€™re being shown round by members of the public whoâ€™ve been through the process themselves is important. A householder who is taking visitors around is regarded as an incredibly trusted source. Theyâ€™re not the government, who might have another agenda, or a charity, but someone like them.â€
When Greg Barker visited, I took the opportunity to ask him whether people would really trust large corporate companies or local government to deliver the forthcoming Green Deal, to give consumers the best value and efficiency measures. And if not would the government support the SEA, as an unbiased group with firsthand experience, to stimulate and support the refurbishment process.
The answers were a definitive â€œnoâ€ swiftly followed by a change of subject. Thereâ€™s a surprise. Lucky the â€œBig Societyâ€ in the form of the Superhome network is stepping in to get homeowners across the UK excited and informed about the benefits of sustainable refurbishment.
This month 65 Super Homes will be opening Â to the public between the 17th and the 25th March. The idea is that you are always within 30 minutes drive of a Superhome, and as they come in all shapes and sizes and styles so youâ€™ll easily find one similar to your own home.
Behind each eco retrofit is an energy saving pioneer with bold ideas. Most will vouch that sustainable refurbishment can deliver superior comfort and low energy bills without sacrificing a propertyâ€™s character. But you donâ€™t have to take our word for it. See for yourself.