Victorian-era house transformed into experimental ‘eco-home’

The makeover took seven months and cost £112,000
By Local Democracy Reporter Josh Mellor

The experimental 'eco-home' in Greenleaf Road (Credit: LDRS)
The experimental ‘eco-home’ in Greenleaf Road (Credit: LDRS)

A 120-year-old Walthamstow house has been transformed into an “energy efficient eco-home” as an experiment by Waltham Forest Council.

The Greenleaf Road home is the start of the council’s drive to improve older, less energy-efficient homes in the borough.

During a seven-month makeover, that cost £112,000, the house was fitted with extra insulation, a heat pump, solar panels and “heat re-capturing technology”. 

The house now has the highest possible rating for energy efficiency and is so airtight that pre-warmed fresh air needs to be pumped in.

Councillor Louise Mitchell, cabinet member for housing, said: “What we want to try and do is make some of the things around turning the home more green and eco-friendly feel more achievable and break it down into chunks.

“We’re not necessarily expecting everyone to do everything, but if lots of people do something that’s good.”

The council feels retrofitting will make a real difference to the planet and residents’ wallets, since half the borough’s carbon emissions come from households and fuel poverty affects 14% of residents.

The council has secured £1.7million in funding to retrofit 200 council-owned homes, a small step towards its aim of achieving net-zero emissions by 2030.

Council or housing association properties make up a one in five of the borough’s housing stock and retrofitting the rest will require government grants or owners forking out.

Visiting Greenleaf Road yesterday, Hackney Council’s design & technical standards manager Guy Sharkey was impressed but wary of how much work would be needed to insulate so many homes by 2030.

He said: “I think this is amazing, it’s good to see, but it’s doing this at scale and in different kinds of properties [that presents a challenge].

“Because this time period, between now and 2030, is so critical. The government is saying ‘I think we should retrofit 600,000 homes a year,’ but we are fitting 60,000 homes a year.”

Free public tours of the house will run until spring, when tenants on Waltham Forest’s housing waiting will move in while the building’s energy use continues to be monitored.