living in zero carbon house

John Christophers and Theo on the sofa at zero carbon house, Birmingham with Jo Hindley sitting beside, viewed from above
Theo, John Christophers and Jo Hindley who live in zero carbon house

John Christophers, an architect, Jo Hindley, a midwife, and Theo, who was aged four, moved into zero carbon house in 2009.

“We had already lived in Balsall Heath for 20 years, when we started looking for a site to build our home and didn’t want to move away.  However, because Balsall Heath is in the inner city, an area of very dense urban housing, there were no vacant sites.

“It very quickly became apparent that it would be much more interesting to take an existing house and attempt to upgrade it to the very most exacting environmental standard (retrofit it). 103 Tindal Street was small –  but had a paved area beside the house into which we could extend.

“Being zero carbon is not just about a building – it’s a way of life.  It’s no use designing a zero carbon house, if you leave the doors open in winter and plug in electric radiators to boost the temperature. The way in which we live in our homes can make a five-fold difference to the energy we use.

“We’re very conscious of the changing seasons as the daylight, electricity and hot water we harvest fluctuate day by day.  Despite this, the temperature inside the house remains very steady.  On the coldest frosty winter days, when it might be -12C outside, it’s usually also sunny with a clear sky so, perhaps surprisingly, we might be generating solar hot water at 5OC just when we need it most.  Over six winters so far we’ve never needed to light our wood-burning stove from early February onwards: the sun has done the rest.

“Feeling so closely in touch with the energy used in the house helps to influence the other choices we make over transport, food, recycling etc.  Although we’re not perfect, we try to think more about the carbon footprint of our whole lifestyle.”

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