Welcome to Green Gables: Dolls House Eco-Renovation Project

Article, Energy & Housing, Info, News

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Talk about drafty!  

Green Gables is a vintage dolls house with some issues.  Like many of our homes, it wasn’t designed with energy efficiency in mind.  We’re using it to show what we can all do to make our homes cosier, kinder on the planet, and cheaper to heat.

Timg 6953he big idea

Over several months, we’ll be making modifications to Green Gables to improve its energy efficiency – starting with simple steps, and getting more ambitious over time.

You’ll be able to follow its progress by visiting our stall at the Farmers Market or the Repair Café, where Green Gables will be on display.  Volunteers will be there to talk you though what’s happening – and offer advice on how you might be able to take similar steps at home.   

Do stop by and see us – Green Gables welcomes all visitors!

The Starting Point

unimprovedWe haven’t got an official Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for Green Gables – but if we had, it wouldn’t look good.  No insulation at all.  Single glazing.  It doesn’t even have a front door!  It would have to be a G.

Like many older properties, it was built at a time when energy efficiency wasn’t a big concern.  Is your house the same?  Do you know what your EPC rating is?

We’ve been looking at EPC ratings of properties in Steyning, Bramber and Beeding on a street-by-street basis.  It shows a huge variation.  This short video – How Green is my Street – shows which streets come out best on average,and which are worst.  With two thirds of houses having an EPC rating of C or worse, there’s a lot of work to be done in bringing our homes up to scratch.  

To see if there is an EPC certificate for your house, you can go direct to the government database and check.  Just CLICK THIS LINK put in your postcode and see what comes up.

Step 1:  Simple Steps

There’s plenty of small improvements you can make that won’t cost you very much.  You can get started by:

  • Draught proofing your doors and windows
  • Replacing you lightbulbs with modern LED bulbs
  • Getting a smart meter installed so you can track your energy usage better.
  • Switching to a green energy supplier
  • Installing cosy curtains or thermal blinds

With Green Gables we’ve gone for thermal blinds.  We’ve fitted some super-insulated blinds that attach with velcro.  They are made of five layers of different material – with velvet inside, and lining fabric on the outside.  Sandwiched in the middle are two layers of Mylar – which is what they use for Space Blankets – and a layer of Thinsulate.   The net effect is really impressive.  In terms of  ‘U values’ it’s equivalent to triple glazing!   

You can find out more about how to make thermal blinds like this here. 

Step 2: Insulation

Effective insulation will cut the energy needed to heat your home significantly, so is the obvious place to go next.  Cavity wall insulation is a one of the simplest and best value routes to take.  But as there are no cavity walls with Green Gables that wasn’t an option.  So we went for loft insulation.  As you can see, we’ve demonstrated two types:

The Warm Loft approach:  Fixing insulation between the rafters – which keeps the whole loft area warm (right side).  This will help your loft space becoming excessively hot in summer or cold in winter.  An air gap is required below the roof tiles to prevent condensation.

The Cool Loft approach: Putting insulation on the floor of the loft, above the joints – which means the rest of the loft stays cool (left side).  Recommended thickness for the insulation depends on the type of insulation used. For example: 270mm glass wool; 250mm rock wool; 220mm cellulose; etc.  If the loft is required for storage then platforms may need to be installed above the insulation in order that it is not compressed. There are lots of options.  The insulation used here is ‘SuperQuilt’ from Ecohome Insulation.

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 Step 2 complete – Insulation and thermal blinds both fitted

To find out more on what you can do to insulate your home, take a look at our Green Homes Guide on Insulation.

Step 3:  Solar Panels

The next stage will be to install some PV panels – this is work in progress, so keep an eye out for news on this.

Step 4:  Heat Pump

And the final step in making a true low carbon home will be to install an Air Source Heat Pump.  This should be ready to see sometime in the New Year.  In the meantime, check out our Introduction to Heat Pumps page.


What do I do next?

If your home needs some work to bring it up to scratch, we may be able to help in pointing you in the right direction.   Take a look at the information resources on Energy and Homes section of this website.  In particular:

I want a warmer, greener home: where do I start?

Getting help with home energy improvements

Green homes guide on insulation

Introduction to Heat Pumps

 Saving energy at home:  Ask the experts session



A special thanks to Roger Potter for lending Green Gables to us for this project, and leading on the project, and to Lynn Atherley for her skillful craftwork in making the thermal blinds and other improvements.