SuperHomes are both low-carbon and low-energy, research finds

2nd March 2016

According to new research undertaken by the National Energy Foundation, low-carbon SuperHomes are also low-energy homes, with the most efficient in the survey using 86% less energy than the average UK home.

Despite what many people think, low-carbon and low-energy don’t necessarily go hand in hand but a new study Energy Efficiency Benchmarks For SuperHomes has proved that they do in the case of SuperHomes - all of which have to show that they have reduced their carbon emissions by at least 60% in order to join the network.

Researchers at the National Energy Foundation (NEF) calculated the energy and carbon figures for a sample of the 205 SuperHomes, by per person per year, and by per square metre of floor space per year. Using the 2012 National Energy Efficiency Data-Framework (NEED) sample, NEF was able to make comparisons between an average SuperHome and the average UK home with the same number of occupants or of the same size.

The research report shows that an average SuperHome:

  • Is over 40% more energy-efficient than the average UK home in its energy use per square metre per year.
  • Consumes about 19% less total energy than the average UK home each year, despite having a larger than average floor area and a higher than average occupancy, and being older than an average house building.
  • Uses 104kWh of energy per square metre per year, compared with a national average of 177kWh/m2/yr.
  • Consumes a total of 14,722kWh of energy per annum, compared with an average household consumption of 18,100kWh.
  • Achieves an incredible average reduction of 72% in carbon emissions, based on comparisons between pre- and post-retrofit emissions.

A number of other star performers emerged from the study with several recording energy use under 50kWh/m2/yr thanks to a mix of energy-saving measures and energy awareness.

In his Edwardian terraced house in Muswell Hill, Stewart McIlroy installed low-cost DIY solutions as well as solar PV and solar hot water. He also fitted insulation under the floorboards, insulation on the internal faces of external walls and secondary glazing to the windows. For space heating, the family feeds two wood stoves with waste wood. A high-efficiency gas boiler comes into play in mid-winter.

At Simon Brown’s 1930s house in Chester, 50mm of internal wall insulation supplements the cavity wall insulation. Solar panels on the south-facing roof produce electricity and hot water. He installed an efficient gas boiler and replaced his old aluminium framed windows with argon gas-filled double glazing. He says:

“After the first year, we were pleasantly surprised to find our total gas and electricity bill was slightly less than in our previous home, which was half the size.”

Gabby Mallett, Director of SuperHomes and Households and Communities at the National Energy Foundation, commented:

“Many people assume that a low-carbon home is also a low-energy one. However, this is not necessarily the case with many homeowners prioritising one over the other; for example, either concentrating on cutting carbon emissions by generating renewable energy with solar panels, biomass boilers and so forth; or, alternatively, reducing their energy consumption by improving their wall and loft insulation and moving to more energy-efficient appliances and lighting.

“This research proves that SuperHomes are super in more ways than one, and it shows that buildings can be improved to be both low-carbon and low-energy. What’s more, it’s fantastic to discover that many SuperHomes have not only gone much further than a 60% carbon reduction, but they’ve achieved great results on energy too; in some cases using up to 86% less energy than the average UK home.”

Notes for editors


SuperHomes is a nationwide network of 205 homes whose owners have reduced their properties’ carbon emissions by at least 60%. These homes are then opened to the public to educate and inspire.