‘I built one of the UK’s most sustainable homes where the energy bills cost just ?200 per year’

Robin Charlesworth would make video calls in winter and see his colleagues wearing jumpers and scarves while he was sitting in Colliers Wood’s kitchen in a t-shirt. It wasn’t because he had the heating turned up high. Robin lives at 95a Robinson Road. It is a carbon neutral home that Robin designed and built for his family. The house is a balmy twenty degrees year-round. His energy bills average?200 per annum, which is almost 10 times lower than the average UK household after April’s energy price increases. “It’s very, very quiet. It’s very strange to have the same temperature every day. Even if there is no heating, you can still get up in the morning and have your bedroom at 20 degrees. It doesn’t matter if it snows, it’s still this wonderful temperature. It’s very simple — it’s insulation. But it feels amazing,” Robin says. Kinleigh, Folkard & HaywardRobin purchased 95 Robinson Road in 2019. The Victorian house had a 40-metre long garden that backed onto the railway. There was also a shed at its bottom. He, his partner, and their children were to move into the house while he built a bungalow in the backyard. They would move into the bungalow after the house was completed and then sell it. “Like many people, we had a dream to build our own house. Robin says that when we saw the house for sale, it felt like a risk that we could take. Even if it didn’t work out, there was still plenty of money in it.” We didn’t originally set out to build carbon neutral houses – I had never heard of them. What you are doing is basically building a very low-energy home and then using solar to generate the energy you require. You don’t need to draw on the grid for resources, so your bills will be very low. “95a Robinson Road has wildflower meadows on the roof to promote biodiversity. Robin CharlesworthCarbon neutral refers to a standard that means you produce more energy than you use during the year. It’s not easy to do as few houses have enough solar panels to cover their energy consumption. It would take about 100 solar panels for a 30kw boiler to run, but most houses only have nine or ten. The floor was also insulated, and the windows are triple-glazed. The whole building is airtight. 95a Robinson Road consumes five to six times less energy per year than an average home. Robin CharlesworthRobin also wanted energy conservation in the construction process. The property is made from timber and not concrete. It was also manufactured on site to reduce waste and carbon emissions. It’s more expensive to build an eco-house. The build cost for an eco-house can be up to 20% more due to the cost of the kit and insulation. Robin estimates that the cost of the “green roof”, which costs an additional?15,000. However, energy costs at 95a are 11.5% lower than the Victorian house at number 95. Before the 54 percent price rises, the family spent?2,300 per year in energy bills. The majority of energy used is for hot water and not heating. It’s a huge savings – it’s an entirely different way to live. Robin Charlesworth designed the interiors of the house. It took Robin one year to get planning permission, and another year to build it. There are three bedrooms, two baths, an open-plan kitchen/dining area, a reception room, and ample storage space. Robin was inspired by his Pinterest feed to design the house’s functional, light interiors. “We designed it for ourselves, really. It was to be a family home. Robin says that the garage at the front is where you can store your bikes, camping gear, and other stuff. “We wanted a large, open living room that was family-friendly. It has all the things we need as a family, but also makes it more appealing to others. “READ MORELiving In Tooting: A guide to schools, homes, and transport links10 green and ethical ways to make your life more sustainable. Best garden benches to enhance your outdoor space. The Charlesworths moved into 95a in December 2021. With a new addition to the family, they are selling their eco-home to build sustainable homes under their new company, Whitebroom. “We’re selling the house, but we will be very jealous of those who live there. Robin says that it will be a very difficult decision to leave. “Actually we would like for this to be repeated – we could build more eco-homes and make it a business. We are passionate about it. He adds, “It’s exciting…it’s nerve-wracking…I’m sure I built it so that I’m always going the say it’s beautiful, but it really is an experience of a house to be in. It has a solid, quiet, warm and lovely feeling that few other homes can match. “95a Robinson Road is currently for sale at Kinleigh, Folkard & Hayward.