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19th Century Eco-Home Opens its Doors to the Public

By Rob Hull on September 14, 2010

As far as award-winning environmentally friendly homes go, a 200-year-old listed building in Llanidloes, Powys, is a seemingly unlikely candidate; nevertheless, Andy Warren’s 19th century property serves as an excellent example of how even the oldest of homes can be refurbished with nature – and fuel savings – in mind.

Cavity wall insulation

Forming part of the ‘Old Home SuperHome’ project, which is run by the Sustainable Energy Academy and the National Energy Foundation, Mr Warren’s property has managed to achieve a 60 per cent reduction in carbon emissions – a notable achievement considering that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has called on the next Welsh Assembly Government to cut domestic emissions by 40 per cent by 2020.

Mr Warren was able to convert his home from a distinctly environmentally unfriendly property to a so-called ‘superhome’ by installing external insulation, secondary double glazing, low energy lights, solar thermal panels and a wood pellet-burning stove with back boiler.

Noting the value of external insulation in older properties, Mr Warren, who works as an adviser on energy efficiency and renewable energy, said: “It’s important homes are energy efficient for the good of the global environment and without sounding dramatic it’s a matter of survival. New homes have cavity wall insulation as a matter of course, but older properties have solid walls and I’ve managed to externally insulate about 70 per cent of my walls”

Through the Old Homes SuperHomes project, the Sustainable Energy Academy aims to promote education and action to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings and communities by creating a network of old dwellings that have been made eco-friendly.

The Sustainable Energy Academy hopes that each of the 200 homes in the project will be accessible, within 15 minutes, to almost everyone in the country.

Mr Warren’s home is one of only two in Wales that meets the energy efficiency standards set out by the Sustainable Energy Academy.

The Old Homes SuperHomes project has received considerable political attention over the past year, however, environmental experts have urged governments to do more to reduce carbon emissions.

Anne Meikle, the Head of WWF Cymru, said: “The refurbishment of existing homes to tackle climate change is a key area for the next Welsh Assembly Government.

“WWF Cymru is keen to demonstrate to politicians that through supporting energy efficiency measures clear gains can be made in terms of meeting their carbon reduction targets and through engaging with the public on this positive agenda.”