4 Whichelo Place, Brighton BN2 9XF


  • Period / age of house: Victorian circa 1867
  • Type: Mid-terrace
  • No of bedrooms: 4
  • No of other rooms: 2
  • No of floors: 4
  • Floor area: 125m2 including loft conversion
  • Cost: About £35 000 for “green” elements of renovation and loft conversion


  • external wall insulation
  • internal wall insulation in extension
  • internal insulation between floors
  • highly insulated loft extension
  • high performance glazing
  • wood burning stove
  • low energy lighting
  • energy monitoring
  • solar thermal unvented system
  • low energy appliances

Introduction and Results

4 Whichelo Place is a typical Victorian three-storey mid-terrace, solid wall house in the Hanover area of Brighton.
The aim of the house refurbishment was to significantly enhance occupant comfort and reduce energy consumption for space and water heating by at least 60%. Meeting or exceeding the then building regulations if possible and with an aspiration of being an AECB Silver standard building and addressing the then newly issued report “The 40% house”.
These aims have been achieved by fitting good quality double glazing and external doors, external and internal wall insulation and internal between floor insulation, new close-fitting internal doors, installation of a solar hot water system and a standalone 5kW wood burning stove. A new well insulated loft extension was also constructed, at the same time.
New energy efficient appliances (A) were installed where possible. The existing boiler although old was retained as it is an early condensing type and is relatively efficient for the little use it gets.
Natural materials and finishes have been used where practicable, but compromises were made where synthetic insulation gave a significant advantage.
The house was lived in and observed for a year before the renovation project began. Before the house was renovated it was comfortable in the summer but during the winter cold walls and poor quality double glazing, little loft insulation and poorly fitting or missing internal doors meant that the house became uncomfortably cool even with the central heating fully on. The internal surface of some external walls suffered from patches of mould from condensation where there was little air movement.

Warmer home in winter

In the two winters since the renovation, the house has been significantly warmer and more comfortable with a relatively even temperature across each floor of the house, making all the floor space useable year round. Patches of mould have disappeared.

The house area is very close to the average UK house average area and the annual average household energy usage in the UK for the average house is 18000kwh for gas and 4800kwh for electricity according to Carbonindependant.org. The house is far more comfortable than before the renovation with a significant reduction of energy use. Averaged over two years, with varying occupancy and behavior the annual amount of energy used for heating (gas and wood) has been less than 8000kwh and for electricity 1800kwh. This is significantly less than the average UK household shown above and much less than neighboring unrenovated houses.

In 2008-2009 following the renovation, the living room temperature was logged (the coldest room in the house as it gets no sunlight in winter) and house energy usage noted. On the coldest days of the year the living room temperature never fell below 16 degrees centigrade even after 12 hours without heating, (and was generally above 18 degrees centigrade). With 4 people in the house and a wide variety of occupancy behaviors, the heating was provided by a mixture of wood stove and gas central heating. During February the quantity of gas required was a third of that of a comparative un-renovated house with a similar heating cycle and temperature. The solar water heating system exclusively provided 200 days of hot water and made a contribution for the remainder of the year. For the year, the gas bill was around £230, electricity bill £350 and approximately 500kg of wood was burnt at about £175.

In 2009-2010 year two people have lived in the house. The central heating was used on only two days during what was a cold winter, the main heat source being the wood stove. Although the measuring period for the second year has not yet finished in is projected that approximately 1000kg of wood will have been burnt, which equates to about 4000kwh of energy. The gas bill will be around £80 for the year for 2500kwh, mainly for water heating and electricity bill around £250.

The graphs above show the energy use and CO2 equivalent emissions (based on DECC 2010 carbon factor figures) for the measured period between 08/04/09 and 08/04/10 compared to the average UK house, which by chance has the same floor area.

In conclusion, the renovation has been a success with the house being more comfortable year round, with much reduced energy usage, CO2 emissions and low energy bills. The house uses probably 25% of the neighboring un-renovated mid-terrace housing stock for space and water heating and an even lower proportion when compared to the UK average.

Energy efficiency measures

  • External wall insulation - Front (street); 80mm Celotex PIR insulation, stainless steel render mesh, haired lime render and tallow and lime wash finish. Back (garden); 100mm Celotex PIR insulation, stainless steel render mesh, cement render, masonry paint.
  • Internal wall insulation - 40-100mm Celotex PIR backed plasterboards in ground floor extension. A mixture of 150mm sheep’s wool and 100mm celotex PIR insulation in loft conversion.
  • Roof insulation - 150mm Celotex PIR insulation including 50mm Celotex PIR insulation backed Plasterboard in eves, 150mm thick sheep’s wool with Heraklith wood wool board and lime plaster in Dormer.
  • Floor insulation - 200mm thick warm cell 100 in floor of loft conversion and approximately 75mm thick warm cell in two bedrooms where floorboards were lifted.
  • Improved glazing and external doors - new wooden frame double glazing with average U values of 1.5. Doors of a similar standard. All windows fitted with trickle vents.
  • Increased air tightness - Tested to 5.5 air changes per hour at 50 Pascal.

Energy and electricity systems

Existing condensing boiler retained despite being 12-15 years old as it is relatively efficient for the amount of use it gets and is always used at full load. Will replacement with a micro CHP system (combined system to generate heat and power simultaneously) when they are market ready.

  • Solar Thermal system - installation of unvented 250 liter hot water tank and oversized evacuated tube collectors. Collectors sit flat on a Dormer roof.
  • Insulated pipe work - all pipes accessible within floors during works were insulated
  • Lighting - All low energy type.
  • Appliances - New Aerated fridge freezer, washing machine and dishwasher.
  • Wood Stove - 5kW high efficiency smokeless zone compliant wood stove burning locally sourced wood.


  • Finishes - Biofa natural paint and oils and Earthborn natural paint were used.
  • Flooring - Cork / wood fiber laminate used downstairs throughout. Cork to be fitted in bathroom.
  • Windows - Curtains fitted throughout


Temperature was monitored in the living room for one year as part of a wider study and energy use noted. An electricity logger is attached to the incoming supply. Solar water pump hours are aggregated on the controller.

Further works

  • Home composting is to be reactivated when the garden is renovated and rainwater collection is planned for garden use.
  • Insulating blinds / curtains to be fitted to some windows.
  • Remaining decoration to be finished using natural paints and finishes.

Professional contacts


– ARCH-angels architects, 128 Edward Street, Brighton, BN2 0JL 01273 267184 http://www.aaarchitects.co.uk/

Building and joinery

– AJN Builders, 114 Livingstone Road, Hove BN3 3WL 01273 207903 http://www.ajnbuilders.co.uk/index.php


– Warmcel, http://www.excelfibre.com/index.html

– Celotex, http://www.celotex.co.uk

– Thermafleece sheep’s wool insulation http://www.secondnatureuk.com

– Heraklith wood wool board http://www.skanda-uk.com/heraklith.htm

Solar thermal system

– Suntrader, http://www.suntrader.co.uk/

Paints and finishes

– Biofa http://www.biofa.co.uk

– Earthborn http://www.earthbornpaints.co.uk/

Windows and doors

– Wood Depot Ltd.