A couple from Henley have invested over £200,000 to transform their regular Henley semi-detached house into their very own, eco-friendly “superhome”.

Plants and greenery under an eco-roof at an eco-home

Having originally bought the house in 1998, some fourteen years later in 2012, Ian and wife decided that the time was right to start the transformation from a regular abode to an amazing eco-home for the family to reside in.


Along with their three sons they began by entirely stripping the floors, ceilings and walls that would enable them to install thick layers of insulation.


The floor spaces were filled with eight inches of padding, the loft space was converted into a living area, and a further 12 inches of thermal lining installed in the roof. There was some additional filling via outside wall cavities, while three inches of external insulation was coated on the entire house.


The next step saw the family replace the windows with triple glazing – filled with argon gas to increase its heat-saving properties – which were fitted with airtight seals so as to keep heat in and draughts out. This included the doors too.


A mechanical heat recovery ventilation system was the next step to be ticked off the list. The purpose of this system is to continually pump air in and out of the house through a succession of ducts, converting the warmth of the air exiting the eco-home as a source of heating air coming in.


The eco-home was then fitted with four solar panels on the roof, with half of them able to convert sunlight into electricity, leaving the other half to heat up the water supply.


The electrical panels alone will provide the property with as much as 2,500kWh a year, more than half the amount a British household uses, on average. What makes this option even better is that the panels are connected into the National Grid, allowing the family to claim a small amount back through the Government’s feed-in tariff scheme.


There’s no need for any central heating, although there has been a gas boiler installed as a means of topping up the hot water when sunlight levels aren’t sufficient, and is only turned on for around an hour a day during the winter.


What’s more is the gas and power comes from Ecotricity, a supplier that uses only “green” energy sources, and then there’s the 5,000-litre underground rainwater tank which is used to supply the toilet and washing machine. Not forgetting the wood burner in the lounge to heat the water up too!


While the work was being completed over an eight-month period, the family decided to reside in the back garden, using two yurts – similar to the ones we offer on our Mongolian yurt holidays – instead of using rented accommodation.


Now that they are all living comfortably in their amazing new eco-home, Ian has begun transforming the garden which will see him able to grow his own vegetables, which will join the four ducks who live happily in their own space with a pond that drains the birds’ droppings into various plant beds to act as a fertiliser. How marvellous!

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