Getting EcoSmart in Oxford

In June 2014, Tim Nicholson, his wife Joanne Bowlt and their two young boys, moved into their newly refurbished eco home in North Oxford. Having purchased the four bedroom, end of terrace property in 2010 and living next door throughout the building work, the couple wanted to prove that it was possible to take a typical 1960s property and transform it into a desirable, energy-efficient home. With its attractive design and high quality finishes, they successfully demonstrate that a sustainable retrofit can provide a comfortable and aspirational environment in which to live and bring up a family.

Tim explains:

“I felt it’s really important to show that energy-efficient, green homes can be created without affecting quality of life. Being green does not have to mean a less satisfying, more miserable life.”

Hansgrohe EcoSmart products, recommended by energy and water-saving specialists, Save Money Cut Carbon (, were specified exclusively for the family bathroom and downstairs shower / utility room.

The Talis E basin mixer in the family bathroom provides sleek modern looks and good performance despite a flow rate of just 3.5 litres per minute. The hand shower with height adjustable wall bar is the award-winning Crometta 85 Green delivering 6 l/min; it is operated by a concealed thermostatic control to ensure a constant safe temperature, this diverts to the discreet Exafill bath filler which also acts as an overflow and opens/closes the waste.

The shower room houses a luxurious wet room with the Croma 220 overhead shower on a ceiling connector; this delivers a generous downpour but with an EcoSmart flow rate of 9 l/min. The hand shower is the Raindance Select S120 hand shower with 3 spray functions including the invigorating WhirlAir twirling massage spray, also delivering 9 l/min. The Focus basin mixer is wall-mounted above a Belfast sink and has a swivel spout to double as a utility sink for washing clothes as well as hands.

All Hansgrohe products are finished in polished chrome and incorporate industry-leading EcoSmart technology which works by adaptive water flow restriction combined with with air-injection; this ensures that the reduced water consumption does not mean comprising on performance, design or enjoyment. The average flow rate for a hand shower without EcoSmart technology is around 14 l/min and 18 l/min for an overhead shower (based on Hansgrohe’s recommended operating pressure of 3 bar). Lower water consumption means less water to heat, making these products both water and energy efficient.

Other sustainable products in the bathroom include a steel enamel eco bath, LED illuminated mirror, dual flush toilet, tiles that were bought in a factory sale and cork flooring. The shower room, which doubles as a utility room, has a A+++ washing machine tucked neatly under the stairs and the attractive floor tiles were reclaimed from a nearby skip.

Throughout the property, energy efficient performance is provided by super insulation in the walls, floor and roof, LED lighting, triple glazed windows, mechanical ventilation and heat recovery, solar thermal panels, solar PV panels, wood burning boiler stove and under floor heating.

Tim explains:

“I think it is fair to say that our home is effectively zero carbon. We have disconnected from the mains gas supply and over the course of the year we generate more electricity than we consume. On sunny days in the summer this house is a mini green power station exporting lots of power to the electricity grid and making lots of hot water for us. On cold days in the winter we burn some waste wood and a few logs and are as warm as toast!”