Britain’s homes are among the least energy efficient in Western Europe, making next winter even worse for people who can’t afford their rocketing energy costs. Home energy improvement grants are available to many on low income or benefits (or to their landlords) from Cambridgeshire’s local council Action on Energy scheme.    

If you can afford it, now’s a good time to make big improvements to your home to make it more comfortable and energy efficient. The resulting energy savings are now more valuable. Even if you’re just changing a room of two, grab the opportunity, while you have builders in, to improve the insulation and upgrade the doors and windows if they need it.

A Cambridge University study showed that local homes with an Energy Performance Certificate level C were typically worth around 5% more than equivalent homes with an EPC D. This is about a £25,000 uplift for the average Cambridge house, now worth over £544k!

But people don’t usually improve their homes for financial reasons, as we find in Open Eco Homes, where homeowners show what they’ve done to their home to make it sustainable and delightful.  Their motivations have been far wider. With the right improvements, like Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery, a home’s indoor climate can be much healthier, with no condensation or mould.  The air can be fresh with practically no allergens. It will be more comfortable throughout the home, with no need to huddle to avoid draughts or cold areas. Some are taking opportunities, like one host family this year whose new extension doubles their floor area, while total gas consumption has fallen by a third. People have their own aesthetics for a beautiful, serene home and it’s been inspiring to see so many variations on this.

An eco-home will also be more resilient against extreme winters, heatwaves and future energy crises. Another big motivation is to do our bit, reducing our carbon footprint to help avoid the worst climate extremes, by minimising home energy consumption and by using low carbon or reused building materials. Some open eco homes are already achieving net-zero carbon standards.   

Whatever your motivations are, it doesn’t matter, they’re personal to you. Find them and act on them” – Martin, 2022 Open Eco Homes host

From mid-September to mid-October nine local Open Eco Homes will have homeowner-led tours, some in-person, some online. Five expert talks will discuss ways of making your home comfortable and low energy.  Details and booking at Open Eco Homes

Tom Bragg, OEH manager. Originally published in The Cambridge Independent, 17 August 2022