Open Eco Homes: Inspiration and Advice

Solohaus                                                 Marmalade Lane                     Heydon Farmhouse                    Garlic Row

Open Eco Homes this year is showcasing 10 Cambridge-area homes, with homeowners hosting free tours, in-person and online, showing the different ways they’ve created their varied low-carbon and sustainable homes.  They will discuss the technical choices involved and how they were influenced by their needs and lifestyles. Most of these homes are retrofits and some new-build. 

Many hosts have been planning, building or retrofitting their homes for a long time, with distinctive, inspiring results.  Some are big-budget and some have kept costs down with lots of DIY, like doctors Emily and Alex who were determined to create a home that embraced more of nature on their doorstep whilst providing their family with a healthier lifestyle. Retrofitting their 1950s bungalow in Guilden Morden has enabled them to significantly reduce their carbon emissions and bills through the installation of an air source heat pump, solar pv and battery, and DIY mechanical ventilation with heat recovery, which is much easier in a bungalow.  They’ve also created a permaculture garden that provides organic food for the whole family and a bounty for wildlife.

In contrast, the smallest and lowest energy consumption ‘Open Eco Home’ ever is a 24m2 factory-built SoloHaus each for someone recently homeless, with over 20 in use in the Cambridge area. They are provided by the developer, Hill’s ‘Foundation 200’ and the homelessness charity, Jimmys Cambridge, give extensive support to residents towards changing their lives for the better.   After each tour we’ll be raising funds for Jimmys.

Other featured homes include a 15th Century farmhouse,  a 1920s semi, homes from the 30s and 50s, a new self-build and Marmalade Lane Cohousing community. There’s lots to learn from.

4 expert talks include one to get you started with ‘Low-Cost Home Energy Savings’ and others on bigger projects to make your own eco-home ideas real.  There’s also a ‘Human Library’, where you can ‘borrow’ an expert in what interests you for a short one-to-one advice session.

Do come to Open Eco Homes for information and inspiration to help you plan your home’s energy-saving improvements.  If you’re considering home improvements, try to take the opportunity to fit better insulation, draught-proofing, windows & door  High prices make the energy savings more valuable.

If they’re unaffordable, can a Cambridgeshire Councils ‘Action on Energy’ grant help? They’re for off-gas homeowners with an EPC of D or lower and with a household income of less than £34,500 or someone on benefits.   If not, can an Eco grant help?

Open Eco Homes Booking now open for tours & talks: 14th September to 22nd October.

We hope it helps you crack on with planning and making your home energy improvements!

First published in Cambridge Independent, 16 Aug 2023, as ‘Inspiration and Advice on offer at Open Eco Homes’