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John Newson;s House

Earlier this month, as part of the climate change festival, people were invited to an open day at John Newson’s Victorian house, which although it was built in 1884 is a model of modern day sustainability. Barbara Panvel pops round for a cuppa.

Forty visitors saw how energy consumption, carbon emissions and bills have been cut. The walls and loft of his end of terrace house have been internally insulated to a high standard and the 1980s single-glazed windows were replaced by double-glazed windows with low-emissivity glass and timber frames.

John’s heating and hot water now come from a high efficiency condensing gas boiler with good controls. Electricity consumption has been minimised by using low-energy lighting and very few electrical appliances. He does not have a dishwasher, TV, freezer, washing machine or tumble dryer. His fridge is a compact A-rated model and his laundry is done at the local laundrette.

His electricity supplier provides 100% of its power from virtually carbon free renewable sources, such as wind, sun, or running water.

John retained some of the house’s original low-energy features, including a ceiling-mounted clothes drying rack, which operates from rising warm air. He reinstated a door at the foot of the stairs to keep heat in the living area.

He walks or cycles locally, attaching a trailer to the cycle to carry shopping. Buses are used for longer journeys and European destinations are reached by train.

Those whose first consideration is environmental welfare will welcome John's reduction of his carbon emissions by 75%; others who first and foremost want to save money will warm to news of the 70% reduction in his gas bill between 2004 and 2006.

Should he ever wish to sell, both features will attract buyers. The energy saving improvements, modernisation and redecoration have increased the value of John’s house: “The best investment I could have made”, he said.



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