Eco House

MARPLE, MELLOR & MARPLE BRIDGE ENERGY SAVING STRATEGY is a local community project which aims to promote carbon reduction, raise awareness of climate change issues and find local solutions to some of the resulting problems.

MESS Eco House – Self Guided Tour

Marple has its own Eco House. It looks like an ordinary house in an ordinary street but it generates all its own energy needs.   With the use of solar and thermal panels, wall and floor insulation, a “Combined Heat and Power” unit and heat recovery ventilation this is a house full of good ideas for us all to learn from.   Follow these virtual tours to see all the ideas in this Eco House.  


On the virtual tour pictures you will see some little i symbols which if you hover over will tell you what you are looking at. The numbers in the pop-ups refer to the numbered paragraphs which give a fuller explanation. 1. Insulated floor 2. External insulation 3. Heat recovery ventilation unit 3a. Air ducting 3b. Extraction vents with fire arrester 3c. Fresh air vents 4. Solar photovoltaic panels 5. Solar hot water panels 6. LED light bulbs 7. Combined heat and power boiler (photo) 8. Drying rack and cupboard (photo)

The paragraph numbers refer to the hotspots on the virtual tours except for 7 and 8 which refer to photographs.

  1. Floors. The floors are solid and we have covered them with 3 inches of insulation protected by flooring grade chipboard.   2. Walls. The walls had cavity insulation but the rear of the house now has an additional layer of external insulation. This is comprised of 100mm extruded polystyrene foam insulation board bonded to a polystyrene vacuum formed skin to which are bonded 15mm thick fire clay brick slips. This has improved our energy efficiency by about 15%. The end wall is already very well insulated, but we had also intended to insulate the front of the house and cover up the non-matching brick of the extension. However, planning permission was refused on the grounds that it “would be an incongruous feature and adversely affect the street scene”.   3. Ventilation. Where possible, draughts have been eliminated and a mechanical ventilation system installed to keep the air fresh. This heats the fresh air coming into the house using heat from the stale air drawn out of the house. This system saves 90% of the heat normally lost by ventilation.

  3a. Retrofitting a ventilation system require ducting to be installed but this does not need to be obtrusive.

  3b. Vents take stale air out of the “wet” areas of the house such as the kitchen and bathroom.

  3c. Fresh air is brought in to the living rooms and bedrooms. 

  4. Electricity supply. We have solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof. The panels are rated at 3.7kWp and most of the year generate more electricity than we need, even though they are on a west facing roof. Much misinformation is give about the need for a south facing roof, but the loss to us is less than 20%. Additionally we have a CHP unit described below, and between this and the PV panels we generate more electricity than we need throughout the year. Unfortunately there are still some times of the day that there is a mismatch between our demand and supply but we are able to sell any surplus and buy any extra we need from the grid. We are also paid a “Feed in Tariff” for all the electricity we generate and this will pay both our gas and electricity bills averaged over the year and still leave us a small surplus.   5. Hot Water. We also have two Solar Thermal panels on the roof which heat the hot water. In the first winter we could not see much effect, but in our first summer, we had several weeks of totally free hot water. We have since added extra insulation to our large hot water cylinder so that it will stay hot for longer when the weather is variable. As part of the CORES project we are installing a heat meter so that we can see just how much energy is being saved.   6. Low Energy Lighting. We have done a lot of research to ensure that our low energy lighting is fit for purpose. Where possible we have avoided the slow start CFL bulbs and selected quick start bulbs or used LEDs. Unfortunately people have been put off using low energy bulbs because of the cost and too many have been of poor quality or their light output has been exaggerated. However, a 100W ordinary bulb will use £14 worth of electricity during its life of 1000 hours, so in the long term, a well chosen low energy bulb will save you money.   7. Heating. All forms of energy eventually end up as heat, and with a high grade form of energy, it is possible to do other things with it before it degrades. We have installed a gas powered “Combined Heat and Power” unit (CHP) which can generate electricity as a by-product of heating the house. When the boiler is on it uses a Stirling engine to generate 1kW of electricity and about 5kW of heat. The good thing is that we get cheap electricity and very little of the heat is wasted (as it is in a power station), as the combination is over 90% efficient. [SEE PICTURE]   8. Tumble dryers use a lot of energy so we have installed a drying rack in a cupboard which is ventilated (hidden inside in the top left corner). We have only used the tumble dryer twice since we installed the drying rack two years ago. [SEE PICTURE]   While you may not be able to do all of these things in your house, and we recognise we were very fortunate that we could, if you are thinking of changing anything such as building work, a new boiler, new lighting or even decorating, then now is the time to take another step towards a lower carbon home. Please email us if you want any more information or help to improve your carbon footprint.  


Builder: Brian Cooper & Sons (Glossop) 01457 855 712 07930 899558 Solar PV: Smart Green Energy 01457 853 517 Solar Thermal: GroundTherm 07796 811072 CHP unit: Baxi Ecogen. 0844 871 1525 Ventilation unit: Xpelair Xcell 150 QV 0844 372 7761 External Insulation: Eurobrick Systems Ltd. 0117 971 7117 LED bulbs: and