Roger Hunt is an award winning writer and blogger specialising in sustainability, old houses, housebuilding and traditional and modern building materials. He is the co-author of Old House Handbook and the companion volume Old House Eco Handbook.

Energy saving LEDs

Energy saving LEDs

The quality of light has fascinated me since my days at drama school. I trained in technical theatre and saw how changes to the colour and intensity of light can be used to dramatic effect on stage. Lighting has come a long way since then and, in the home, we’ve moved on from the basic…

Energy saving control

Energy saving control

Not so long ago home automation was just a fancy way of saying a home had a cabled music system with loudspeakers hidden in the ceilings. Not any more. Today the feel-good factor of buying a home equipped with the latest technology is as much about saving energy as relaxing to a melody. Yes, there’s…

Fit for the future

Fit for the future

The other night I pledged to continue promoting sustainability through my writing. Let me explain, I’d been invited along to Centre Point, in London, by the National Trust for the launch of the Fit for the Future Network. This network, created by the Trust together with Ashden, the sustainable energy charity, aims to allow leading…

Debating good homes

Debating good homes

The Good Homes Alliance (GHA) aims to be Britain’s leading authority on good homes. With this in mind it launched a primer for a ‘good homes debate’ at its conference last week. The document Get Britain Building Good Homes sets out what it believes is wrong with Britain’s new homes sector and presents ideas for…

Richard Rogers Inside Out

Richard Rogers Inside Out

My last visit to the once revolutionary Pompidou Centre in Paris was a long time ago; other buildings associated with Richard Rogers have featured more recently in my life: Lloyds of London, Heathrow Terminal 5, the Millennium Dome, The Leadenhall Building or ‘Cheese Grater’ now rising above the City of London as its tallest building….

Overheating in homes

Overheating in homes

A lot has been written about overheating in homes recently, especially in relation to energy efficiency measures introduced under the Green Deal. The BBC quotes Prof Chris Goodier, of Loughborough University’s department of civil and building engineering, who “said the risk of overheating had been overlooked in the ‘big rush to insulate and make homes…

The performance gap

The performance gap

Ensuring that what has been designed is the same as what is being delivered is ever more crucial as we strive to improve the energy efficiency and overall performance of buildings. It’s a subject I explored in the May issue of Show House magazine here while Sofie Pelsmakers offers some useful links on the subject here. Image…

Lighting history

Lighting history

Incandescent light bulbs (lamps) have illuminated the world for more than a century. They’ve done it in a way that has felt natural in historic interiors and has been flattering to the complexion because traditional tungsten filaments provide a spectrum of light not dissimilar to fire or candlelight. Now they’ve been banned in favour of…

Eco-boilers help cut costs

Eco-boilers help cut costs

Capable of cutting costs and energy use, new boilers or appliances can prove a shrewd investment as the Goring Heath Almshouses charity recently discovered. According to a news report, the charity installed a new biomass boiler with the intention of saving as much as £10,000 a year on their heating costs. Currently, the charity supports…

Straw bale homes

Straw bale homes

The use of straw bales for building apparently originated in Nebraska, USA, following the introduction of horse and steam powered bailing machines a century or so ago. Farmers soon saw the value of using bales to built temporary shelters but, having realized their potential to stand up to the weather, they began using them to…

Old House Eco Handbook

Old House Eco Handbook

Each time I write a book I say to myself “never again”. This is all very well but when a good idea comes along it’s hard to resist. Towards the end of 2010 I watched as the ink dried on my signature at the bottom of a contract for “a book provisionally entitled ‘The Old…

Research, research, research

Research, research, research

Location, location, location may be the estate agent’s mantra but when you buy an old house research is just as important – it helps you understand what you’re buying and will make a renovation project more successful. What’s more, much of the fun of working on an old property is finding out more about its history…

Water savings

Water savings

Water is a finite and precious resource, we all know that – or at least we should. I was reminded when I visited Bermuda. Here the architecture is influenced by the need to collect rainwater. Stepped and whitewashed roofs are a key feature of many buildings with their wedge-shaped limestone ‘glides’ designed to channel rainwater into…

Energy: Nest Thermostat

Energy: Nest Thermostat

Controlling your heating system is one of the quickest and easiest ‘wins’ when it comes to saving energy (and money) in the home and, although I’ve mentioned thermostats here before, I make no apology for writing about them again. In the USA Nest has been a trailblazer both in terms of technology and design. Now the Nest Learning Thermostat is available in…

American Barns

American Barns

by Jan Corey Arnett, Shire Publications The barn is an icon of rural America but how many of us who have driven by these structures and remarked at their bold colour, diversity of style and often ramshackle appearance have any understanding of their origins? Jan Corey Arnett was raised on a Michigan dairy farm and…

Switching on to style

Switching on to style

There’s nothing very sexy about light switches or power sockets. At least this is what I’d thought until I went to a recent launch event for MK’s Elements range of ‘decorative wiring devices’. I came away realising that switches can be cool. What’s more I delved a bit deeper into wireless light switch solutions which…

Repair not restore

Repair not restore

Visiting Coventry to speak at an SPAB Old House Eco Course I was reminded of the complex philosophical issues associated with caring for our built heritage, particularly the value of good new design in an historic environment and the need to understand the fundamental principle of repair rather than restoration. The ruins of Coventry Cathedral…

Insurance and flooding

Insurance and flooding

Flooding is something I’ve already written about but it seemed important to think about the insurance implications relating to old buildings. In this Q & A I’ve asked Amanda Harman, who works as senior client manager of High Value Households at Aon Private Clients, for her views: What are the particular insurance issues relating to…

Responsible retrofit

Responsible retrofit

Retrofit requires an understanding of the building coupled with an holistic approach. This may sound simple but it isn’t, buildings – especially old buildings – are many layered entities and it’s not only the structure that has to be considered, it’s the behaviour of the building’s occupants. When planning retrofit strategies, heritage, technical and energy…

Chimney draughts

Chimney draughts

Speaking and answering questions at shows generally doesn’t leave much time to explore the stands and see what’s new. This was the case at this year’s Homebuilding & Renovating Show but it soon became clear, from what visitors to the advice centre were telling me, that there was one product that I had to go…

Using wood wisely

Using wood wisely

I didn’t see a monster on my visit to Loch Ness but I did end up learning something about forestry and how the use of timber can be maximised. I’d travelled to a forestry site called Glen Brien, close to the southern end of the Loch, where 73 hectares (180 acres) of Lodgepole pine (Pinus…

Briefing on sustainability

Briefing on sustainability

This week has seen the publication of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) Briefing: Energy efficiency in old buildings. You can download it here and I hope you find it interesting. As editor I’ve tried, through the words of some of the leading practitioners in the field, to bring clarity to the…

Drying flooded old buildings

Drying flooded old buildings

Flooding may not be making the headlines anymore but there are still plenty of people with homes that have suffered damage. What worries me is that I’m hearing about insurance companies, loss adjusters, landlords and contractors who are pushing ahead with inappropriate and rushed work to older buildings without thinking about the long term consequences….

Renovation tale – Part 1

Renovation tale – Part 1

This is the tale of my first major renovation project some years ago… On the table is the surveyor’s report; yellow Post-it notes stick from its pages in such profusion that they no longer have any relevance. Phrases like “needs attention”, “must be thoroughly overhauled” and “a fair amount of dampness” are highlighted by marker… Continue Reading