How We Made Our Grade 2-Listed Home Sustainable

Grade 2 listed

Embarking on the journey of blending the traditional charm of our Grade 2 listed home, with its distinctive thatched roof spanning 100m2 over two storeys, with the principles of modern sustainability was both a challenge and a passion. In 2015, we undertook a significant extension, adding 90m2 of modern living space, equipped with state-of-the-art insulation and a modern zinc standing seam flat roof. This project was not merely about extending our living space but about embedding sustainable practices into the fabric of our home.

Our commitment to creating a home that respects its historical significance while embracing environmental sustainability was evident from the start. The installation of underfloor heating across both the historic and new sections of the house, complemented by radiators upstairs, set the stage for our green transformation. The pivotal moment came in 2020 when we replaced the outdated oil boiler with a more environmentally friendly LG Therma V 16kW air source heat pump (which I DIYed installed and you can read about here) marking a significant step towards reducing our carbon footprint.

The solar journey began alongside the extension project in 2015, with the installation of a 2kW photovoltaic (PV) solar array consisting of seven panels. Despite facing challenges such as shading from the main house, the system, equipped with Solaredge optimisers and an inverter, performed efficiently, introducing us to the benefits of the Feed-in Tariff (FIT). However, this initial foray into solar energy was a learning curve, especially when a failed optimiser in 2023 highlighted the absence of a monitoring system—a challenge we overcame by securing a warranty replacement from Solaredge.

Driven by the desire to further our sustainability goals, especially considering the ASHP’s energy demands, we expanded our solar installation in 2021 with a 6.5kW PV solar array. Despite the constraints posed by our home’s listed status and its conservation area location, our commitment to sustainability saw us through the planning process, even without professional architectural assistance. The solution—a discreet flat roof installation on the modern extension—proved that environmental responsibility could go hand in hand with aesthetic and historical preservation.

This expansion of our solar capacity was a deliberate step towards energy self-sufficiency, complemented by the strategic addition of three GivEnergy batteries and a hybrid inverter. These upgrades allowed us to efficiently manage energy consumption, particularly important following the geopolitical uncertainties and energy price surges post-Ukraine war. Recognising the importance of resilience, we installed a manual changeover EPS in 2023, ensuring our ability to maintain essential functions during power outages.

Our journey has been one of continuous learning and adaptation. Initial oversights, such as underestimating the need for an emergency power supply (EPS) and not fully understanding our inverter’s capabilities, were valuable lessons that informed our subsequent decisions. These experiences have taught us the importance of comprehensive planning and the value of resilience in integrating modern technology into historic properties.

Today, our home stands as a testament to the feasibility of integrating sustainable technologies with historical buildings. It reflects our belief that with thoughtful planning, commitment to sustainability and a willingness to learn from early mistakes, it’s possible to honour our architectural heritage while advancing towards a more sustainable future. For those embarking on similar projects, our story underscores the necessity of considering long-term sustainability goals, the importance of energy independence and the pursuit of a balance between aesthetic beauty and environmental stewardship.

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