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But your home can be transformed into a super home

The homes of Britain are responsible for nearly a third of the nation’s total energy consumption despite years of steadily improving energy efficiency. To meet the UK’s carbon emission reduction targets by 2050, approximately 600,000 homes each year must be renovated in order to achieve large energy savings.

At the moment, only a handful of homes are renovated each year to meet high energy-saving standards. More people need to be inspired to do the work themselves and bring their homes up to date.

As pioneers in the field, homeowners who have done this can be a great example for others. They may even open up their homes to the public. The Superhome network is the UK’s longest-running open home network. It was launched in 2006 by the Sustainable Energy Academy.

The study, published in the Buildings Research and Information Journal, examined the experiences and motivations of Superhome owners-occupants. It also looked at the costs and benefits associated with renovation. We conducted a survey online with 57 Superhome owners-occupiers, or about half of the relevant households.

In comparison to a typical English homeowner, we found that Superhome owners were, on average, more educated, lived in larger households, and had larger homes. They also had higher incomes, which are characteristics that are common among those who have pro-environmental views. The wide range in incomes was perhaps more surprising. While many Superhome owners are better off than the average, there is a large proportion who live on incomes that are lower than the average. Money is a plus, but renovating to save energy isn’t just for the wealthy. Energy-efficient homes are cheaper to operate, which is one of their benefits.

The average household installed 10 energy-efficiency or renewable energy measures. Most popular were loft insulation (100%), wall insulation (91%), high-performance double-glazed windows (81%) and solar panels (77%). Most households have undertaken similar work. All of these technologies and techniques that can lead to energy savings and low-carbon buildings were well understood.

This study confirms that renovation work can be done for a long time . The renovation could take less than six months or several decades. However, the most popular time frame (30% of respondents) is between two and five years. Renovations are also divided into those that were planned at the beginning (60%) and those that developed over time (40%)

Most homeowners renovate to lower energy consumption and reduce carbon emissions. Other benefits include better comfort and warmth in the home and lower energy bills. We explored the motivations of householders during interviews. Some were motivated by environmental concerns; others focused on reducing waste. Others still saw energy savings as part of a process to improve their quality of life. Researchers have begun to realize that renovating is not an easy or straightforward decision.

Owners of superhomes are frequently asked about cost. It can be difficult to give a straight answer for two reasons. Firstly, it is possible that no detailed records were kept. It can also be difficult to distinguish the costs of energy-saving measures from other renovations that are taking place. Many homeowners, for example, use triggers such as when they extend their home to implement low-energy measures. The interviewees we spoke to estimated that they spent between a few thousand and low tens of thousands of pounds for their renovations. Renovations that are less expensive usually involve some DIY.


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Jane S. King

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