Case Study: making a home carbon neutral in 2020

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This is a case study written by Philip Haile, a member of Transition Bath’s Energy Group on how he has managed to make his home carbon neutral. It serves to illustrate that it possible to make a ordinary home carbon neutral at relatively low cost:


I moved into this large 4-bed detached 1970’s house in 2012 in a rural location, and over an 8-year period have made it almost carbon neutral. This was achieved mainly through the installation of solar PV panels, an air source heat pump, and a wood burner. Over that time carbon emissions have reduced by 98% and costs by 79%.

The following changes were made:

  • Cavity wall’s insulated and loft insulation topped up
  • 8 solar PV panels installed (2.5 kWp)
  • Replaced gas boiler with air source heat pump
  • LED lighting throughout
  • A+++/A++ appliances
  • More efficient wood burner with catalytic converter
  • Behavioural change: turning appliances off, wearing warm clothing, smart meter monitoring of usage patterns

There was nothing radical about the work and most of the costs were covered by government CERT, FIT and RHI subsidies. Net of subsidies the total capital outlay has been about £3,000. The reduction in energy usage saves about £1,300 each year in energy bills.

By 2035 most homes in the UK will need to become carbon neutral if we are going to meet the UK’s climate change obligations. This will require us all to make similar changes to our homes, and in particular we will all have to replace our gas boilers with low carbon electric heating.

This case study attempts to prove that making a relatively ordinary home in the UK carbon neutral is achievable today.

The rest of this case study goes into the individual measures in detail, explaining the thought process behind each of the changes. Although the text often focuses on running costs, any reduction in running costs almost always implicitly means a reduction in carbon emissions. There is quite a lot of detailed information below, however reducing a home’s carbon emissions can be spread out over a number of years, and if there is one take-way from this case study – the biggest saving was replacing the gas boiler with an air source heat pump.


A detailed writeup of the changes made to the home can be found here.