This year's Eco Open Houses takes place over the weekends 18-19 and 25-26 October in the Brighton & Hove coastal city region of southern England. The event allows homeowners to see if they too can take practical steps to improve their own homes. Visitors will be able to assess the technology choices, funding options and lessons from the contractors employed.
The Eco Open Houses trail in Brighton and Hove includes new-builds, retrofitted flats and terraced houses. Homes that take part in Eco Open Houses achieve an average reduction in energy use of 69 per cent, which means they typically have lower water and energy bills, and smaller carbon footprints than the average UK home. They are generally warmer and more comfortable to live in, and are better adapted to changing weather patterns.
The 19 homes and other buildings featured in this year's Eco Open Houses range from seven new-builds to 12 lower cost refurbishments, demonstrating that you don't have to have pots of money to make your home an eco home.
This year's Eco Open Houses highlights include:
• The office that used to be a toilet block, featuring ground-floor insulation, food growing, rainwater collection and recycled furniture, including an old gym horse converted to a table.
• The community centre made out of old car tyres: visitors to Eco Open Houses can have a tour of Earthship Brighton, which is made from rammed earth inside car tyres. It generates its own solar energy for heat and power, and treats sewage on site.
• The university building constructed from waste: the internationally renowned Waste House, made almost entirely out of "waste", including old denim and thousands of toothbrushes, will be open to the public throughout the event.
• The natural home: a house that's been refurbished using natural, recycled and reused building materials wherever possible.
Thousands of people are expected to visit the 19 buildings and the seminar programme, which features talks on how to build and renovate using strawbales, and low-energy Passivhaus construction, featuring case studies in Totnes and Normandy. Homeowners and volunteers will be on hand to offer practical tips on how to make homes more efficient and to explain how the technologies and techniques featured work.
All visitors who complete a pledge form stating what improvements they would like to make to their own homes will be entered into a prize draw to win an energy meter or a place on an Eco Renovate Your Home course.
Full details of Brighton & Hove Eco Open Houses, including how to book tours of the eco homes, open house visiting times and the seminar programme, can be found in the 2014 brochure, which can be downloaded for free at www.ecoopenhouses.org