About the house

In the UK, we have some of the oldest housing stock in the developed world - we love our period homes! For this project, B&Q wanted to retain the look and feel of this family home but make it ready for the 22nd century.

  • Update your boiler

    Simply updating your boiler can save up to £300 per year from your heating bills according to the Energy Saving Trust.

    Find out more about how you could save energy in your home.

    HeatingThe gas boiler was removed. We dropped a cabin in the back garden, replacing a concrete garage, which had an air source heat pump installed inside. Super insulated pipes run under the garden carrying heated glycol from this pump into the home's heating system.

    Mechanical heat recovery ventilation compliments the central heating. Because the home has a higher level of insulation and draught proofing, it needs to be ventilated. As stale warm air is extracted, it is used to warm up incoming fresh air.

    Underfloor heating in the living room and loft conversion heats rooms without needing to get to the high temperature of a conventional radiator because the area is much larger. Skirting board radiators are on trial in 2 of the bedrooms.

    Zone control enables different temperatures to be set for different rooms - and smart thermostatic radiator valves link to this system.
  • Hot WaterOn top of the cabin in the garden, two solar thermal flat panels heat water. This feeds in super insulated pipes under the garden and into the house where a heat exchanger uses them to heat mains water
  • B&Q Energy Shop

    B&Q now offers a wide range of installed energy efficiency services - including solid wall insulation. Look out for a new Energy Shop as these are rolled out across the country or order online now

    WallsThe house was built with cavity walls which we insulated. However, in the 1890s, when house walls were starting to be built with a cavity between 2 layers of brick, the gap was narrow compared to modern building standards - so not much space for insulation. We decided to apply additional insulation to the walls that would normally only be used on a building with solid walls.

    Outside, we applied a phenolic resin to some walls and cork insulation to others. The cork was covered in brick slips - which give the appearance of bricks without the bulk of a full brick. The resin was covered with a rendered style finish which has the additional benefit of not needing repainting for 10 years!

    Inside, we applied insulation between wooden battens in the kitchen. This was covered with a reinforced plasterboard that is strong enough o support kitchen wall units. In the narrow hallway, we applied an aerogel insulation board that has a vacuum applied so that it insulates effectively without losing space in the room.
  • What is Passivhaus?

    Passivhaus - or Passive House - is a rigorous standard for the energy efficiency of buildings that centres around reducing the need to heat (or cool) spaces whilst improving comfort levels.


    Doors & WindowsWe calculated a payback of over 100 years for replacing the uPVC double glazed windows - so instead, we simply refitted them to reduce draughts.

    Where we needed new windows, we opted for timber framed double or triple glazing.

    The front door consists of two layers of timber sandwiching a layer of insulation - achieving a Passivhaus level of energy efficiency.

    Placing a second door in the hallway created a draught lobby. Closing this second door before opening the front door helps to keep draughts under control
  • FloorWe insulated the floors, using an evacuated aerogel in the kitchen over a damp proof membrane
  • AtticBecause of the loft conversion, the house only has a small attic space over the smallest bedroom. This has had 400mm of insulation packed in.
  • Waterwise

    Waterwise estimate we each use 150 litres of water every day. Find out more about how you could become more water efficient at home

    WaterAlthough a shower can be more water efficient, we decided to keep a bath because families with small children will require one! It is hipped to reduce its capacity.

    An aerating showerhead mixes air with water to reduce water usage without compromising on power experienced.

    The toilet flushes effectively with 2.6 litres per short flush and 4 litres per full flush, 35% less than most modern dual flush toilets
  • RoomsThe bathroom was moved upstairs. This meant that the house "lost" its third bedroom. A prefabricated Loft Pod was craned in, converting the loft to become the third bedroom. This conversion was completed in a morning and the new room was already painted with light fittings in place.

    On the same day, a cabin was dropped by the crane into the back garden. As well as housing the heat pump and solar thermal panels, this provides office space ready for working from home. The cabin has been insulated to a high level.

    The kitchen units were made from a mix of recycled and FSC® certified wood sourced from within 90 miles of the factory in Devon.
  • DecorLighting is all energy saving. We have been making more improvements, replacing CFL bulbs with LEDs as these reach full brightness instantly and use even less electricity.

    The carpet underlay is made from clothing donated to UK charity shops that is beyond wearing!

    We decorated using recycled paint, groutless tiles and wallpaper printed with water based inks