St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

25 Sep

York Open Eco Homes

Sat 25 Sep 2021 at 9:30 am - 4:30 pm


YOEH 2021- retrofitted homes featuring in the event

Are you wondering how to make your home better for you and the planet? Meet fellow York residents who have achieved just that! Please book to see the home/s by 9am on Saturday 25th September in order to receive the address/es and directions, or see below for more information on all participating homes: 

York Environment Week 2021 posterAround a third of the city’s carbon emissions come from heating and powering our homes because very few are well insulated, if at all. Yet, upgrading energy efficiency of homes reduces their running costs and carbon footprint while also improving health and wellbeing, which suffer in cold and damp homes. This event gives you the opportunity to visit local homes that are healthier and don’t cost the Earth to run in either energy bills or carbon emissions. Book a tour to pick up tips for improving your home and meet friendly people happy to share their experiences – in both technical and layperson’s terms. Retrofitting homes is not as simple as it should be so it’s good to learn from others and be able to ask questions.

This event, organised in conjunction with York Community Energy, is part of York Environment Week, Great Big Green Week and Green Open Homes – check those out for more exciting events including ‘For the future – what to know before you buy a new home‘ on Thur 23rd September.


The following are kindly opening their doors to visitors as part of our annual York Open Eco Homes project. Please respect the privacy of the home owners and only visit in your booked time slot. Visitor numbers are restricted to help ensure Covid safety for all.

YOEH2021 progress on George's house

Photos showing progress on George’s house – from the walls and floors being stripped down to getting insulated and (nearly) finished.

From a Victorian to modern standard (South Bank area)
George Robinson’s aim was to undertake a home upgrade (retrofit) that would have minimal visual impact on the house while achieving substantial improvements in comfort and energy savings. Partly thanks to local contractors and partly George himself, this standard Victorian terraced house is transforming into a modern, comfortable home that doesn’t cost the Earth to run. Walls have been insulated internally using a combination of woodfibre, cork or upcycled plastic insulation, and floors have been insulated too.

A lot of attention has been paid to improving airtightness – removing uncontrolled ventilation through draughts and faults in the building fabric, which has been tested several times. To ensure good fresh air supply and excess moisture removal when the house is airtight, a mechanical ventilation unit with heat recovery (MVHR) was installed. This will be saving energy overall and supporting a healthy indoor environment. Space heating needs and domestic hot water are supplied by an 8kW air source heat pump in the winter whilst solar heating provides hot water during the summer. Additionally, George has also installed PV panels and a Tesla battery – on sunny days the home is totally off grid with some left over for the next day. The overall system performance is monitored through a home designed and built energy monitoring system. The aim is to show the extent to which all the fabric adjustments impact on total heating requirements – a 2/3 saving is estimated – but also the relative efficiency of all the installed technologies. Time will tell and George will be sharing his findings with anyone interested.
Book to see this home via Eventbrite


YOEH2021 lounge floor installation progress

Lounge insulation in progress

DIY upgrade of a 1920s semi (Tang Hall)

For Lyle and Natalie, reducing their carbon footprint has been the primary motivation for retrofitting their house but they’re very happy to enjoy other associated benefits such as a healthier home and financial savings. They’ve done most of the work themselves on insulating the house from top to bottom using various types of insulation. In their selection they were looking for a low thermal conductivity, high recycled content and low VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Having to remove most of the concrete floor in the kitchen provided an opportunity to not only insulate it very well but also add electric underfloor heating for added comfort.

To ensure adequate ventilation throughout the home and regulate humidity, they have installed a mechanical ventilation heat recovery unit (MVHR). This can be up to 80% efficient at recovering heat, while exchanging the air in the house with filtered air from outside. In terms of heating, Lyle and Natalie have opted for a gas boiler and a hot water tank for now but their goal is to move to a heat pump within 5-10 years (or hydrogen should that be an option). To further reduce their energy demand, they’ve swapped the gas hob for an induction one and any new (or slightly used) appliances have an A+ or higher energy efficiency rating.

In addition to making their home more energy efficient, Natalie and Lyle have also opted for more sustainable purchases in the finishes, such as clay-based paints with very low (essentially zero) VOCs, and a mix of linoleum and cork flooring. Both materials are made of natural renewable materials, which maintain a healthy indoor environment for people with respiratory issues, and range from carbon neutral to carbon negative. Once the home retrofit is completed, the couple also plan to nature-scape the front and back garden by replacing the gravel and concrete with native planting.
Book to see this home via Eventbrite


Eco-retrofitted Victorian house

Phil Bixby’s eco-retrofitted Victorian house

Eco-retrofitted house (Knavesmire area) – bringing the past up to tomorrow’s standard
Local architect Phil Bixby has eco-refurbished his Victorian end-terrace house, retrofitting the existing structure to a high standard of insulation (including fitting triple-glazed sash-lookalike windows) and creating two new single-storey extensions each to Passivhaus-standard levels of performance and with green roofs. Attention to airtightness means whole-house mechanical ventilation with heat recovery can work efficiently, and the resulting energy requirements are sufficiently low to allow simple electric heating. A substantial photovoltaic array (including novel use of the south-facing gable wall) and battery storage mean the overall energy requirements can be efficiently provided for by a mix of solar and off-peak electricity. This home has now been occupied for nearly three years, so Phil has plenty of information on how it has performed, which he’s happy to share.
Book to see this home via Eventbrite


Mike Child's air source heat pump

Mike Child’s air source heat pump

Greening up a Fishergate terraced house
Mike Childs is the Head of Science, Policy and Research with Friends of the Earth so he’s been aware of the climate emergency for a long time. Life and finances have prevented him from retrofitting his house quickly but over the last 20 years he’s made steady progress in reducing the carbon footprint and making his family home more comfortable. Mike will talk you through the changes he’s made to the house – from insulation and high spec windows to solar panels and air source heat pump (pictured) – and other ways of improving environmental footprint.
Book to see this home via Eventbrite

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