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Eco-house helps families get energy smart

8 November 2013

With all the current talk of energy bills and heating costs, a Big Lottery Fund-supported project is helping families in Market Harborough lower their costs. Sue Barsby from our England communications team went along to find out more.

House with solar panels

Sustrainable Harborough’s eco-house

The semi detached eco-house sits in a quiet residential street in Market Harborough. Built in the 1950s, it’s been completely transformed inside to make it eco-friendly and to use much less energy.

“We wanted to show that it is possible to make existing houses more efficient and reduce bills, without spending a vast amount of money,” said Sustainable Harborough‘s Gavin Fletcher. “This isn’t Grand Designs, it’s for ordinary families.”

Many of the improvements made to the home are easy to replicate and Seven Locks housing company are looking to make a number of changes right across their housing stock.

“We like the quick wins like replacing the strip lighting in homes with LED spots,” said Deborah Bennett of Seven Locks. “These use much less energy and don’t have to be replaced for years. This has the additional benefit of reducing the worry on our older or disabled tenants who won’t have to struggle up steps to replace lightbulbs.”

Not all improvements involve refurbishments. How many of us know how best to use our boilers or thermostats? Sustainable Harborough have been offering advice on how best to use their appliances to save money. Seven Locks’ staff have taken this idea up and are currently reviewing the information they give to clients when they move into a property, to see if this kind of advice can be extended.

Mother and daughters

Ann-Marie and her daughters live in the eco-home

“We want to roll out solutions that are resident-focused, replicable and reliable,” said Deborah.

“We’re providing homes for people, not just houses. That has to come with support and help where needed. These quick wins can help make a difference to our clients.”

Mum Ann-Marie and her two daughters have been living in the home for just a few weeks but they already love it. “It’s a lovely house,” she says,

“We’re learning so much about how to save money and energy. It is not until you make the changes first hand that you really understand how easy it can be.”

Gavin had one final piece of advice for residents. “Plug your leaky gaps!” he said. “So much heat can be lost through gaps in window frames, doors or chimneys.”

Ann-Marie agrees. “In our old flat, we had to sellotape up the holes to keep warm. Here, if we want a draft we have to open a window.”

Sustainable Harborough received £999,962 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Communities Living Sustainably programme to use Market Harborough as a ‘test bed’ for sustainable living. The project looks to improve the environmental sustainability and resilience to climate change of an entire town.

What do you think of Sue’s blog? Leave your comments below or join the conversation on Twitter using #biglf

One Comment leave one →
  1. curious212000 permalink
    8 November 2013 12:54 pm

    The less Government interference with the Energy Market will incentive every one.

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