Press Releases

Lewes Open Houses inspire with ideas for green living and cutting energy bills - Press release 16th October 2016

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Lewes Eco Open Houses is back after a break of two years to show off low energy sustainable homes and inspire visitors! Twelve houses and a community cinema will open their doors to the public, seven for the first time. The event will take place on the 15th,16th, 22nd and 23rd of October and has been made possible by generous funding from the Big Lottery.

The interesting range of homes on show include exciting new builds, ingenious renovations, Lewes’s new Eco B&B, and Depot community cinema which will replace Harvey’s depot, whilst keeping its familiar frontage. There are also two houses in Plumpton to demonstrate off-grid technologies as well as a pioneering PassivHaus project in the downs just outside Lewes, insulated to a standard that means it requires almost no energy to heat.

As well as their carbon emissions, all have drastically cut their electricity, gas and water bills. The organiser of the event, Neil Williams, whose house is Open for the third time this year said: “Its surprising the cumulative effect of low cost and no cost measures, coupled with trying to live more sustainably. Without spending that much it’s possible to cut energy use by 50% or more and its fascinating to see just how far you can go. By making careful investments and using available subsidies, 80 or 90% reductions are perfectly feasible” With changing weather patterns and rising energy prices these strategies can future proof your home.

All homes are free to visit, and everyone is welcome. Some houses are running tours which must be booked online:, and you can find out when the houses are open in the brochure, which is available at local shops and businesses and on the website at . Visitors will see how homeowners are cutting their environmental impact, how cheap changes can make a difference to bills, and how advanced green technology- such as solar photovoltaic panels and heat pumps are transforming modern and older buildings. 

Press Release - 1st September 2014

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Norman Baker MP launches Lewes Eco Open Houses 2014

Lewes MP Norman Baker today officially launched Lewes Eco Open Houses, which will be held over the weekends of 13-14 and 20-21 September. Sixteen homes in Lewes, Barcombe, Ditchling, Rodmell and rural areas, will be open to the public to see how you can save money on energy and water bills, whilst staying warm and comfortable and reducing your carbon footprint. With fuel costs rising and changeable weather patterns increasing, the Eco Open Houses trail is an invaluable way to see first-hand how to make your home cheaper to run and more comfortable.

During the launch event, a mix of local councillors, householders, volunteers and event organisers proudly cut the green ribbon at the Eco Open House of Neil Williams of 8 St James Street, Lewes. Neil explained how he had eco-renovated his Victorian terraced home on a modest budget, which included high levels of solid-wall and under-floor insulation, low-cost magnetic secondary glazing, and a wood-burning stove. The cost of the refurbishment was £4,500 and energy use and bills have been cut by 50%. As one of the 16 houses on the trail, Neil’s home is an inspirational visit brimming with cost saving ideas.

Neil’s introduction was followed by launch special guest, Lewes MP Norman Baker.

Mr. Baker said, “The Open Houses event is a grass-roots movement which gives a unique chance to learn from the practical, real-life experience of others in the local community. A quarter of the UK’s carbon emissions come from energy used in the home so there is good potential to save carbon. And many people are struggling to pay their energy bills and stay warm, so there is an urgent need to find ways to save energy and cut fuel bills.”

Kirsten Firth, volunteer press coordinator on the Eco Open Houses team, rounded off the launch by thanking all the event partners and the 16 householders who will generously open their homes to the public in September. She said, “There’s a real momentum building. The Lewes Eco Open Houses event has been running for 5 years and has expanded from one to two weekends. New houses are added to the programme every year – 6 new houses in 2014. Last year there were over 900 visits to the houses and more than half of the visitors said they are planning energy-efficiency improvements to their own homes.”

The inspiring homes on show in 2014 range from renovated Victorian cottages to 1960's conversions and stunning architect designed new-build properties. Properties in the villages and countryside feature exciting off grid measures such as air, ground and water source heat pumps, as well as being examples of good eco building. This year it even features a sustainably managed woodland, Bonny’s Wood, which is normally closed to the public. All the houses have drastically cut their electricity, gas and water bills as well as carbon emissions.

The event is part of Community Energy Fortnight which encourages the growth of community owned renewable energy. A Community Energy Fortnight conference, Powering Our Communities, the Community Energy South Discussions, is taking place on Friday 19th September at the Linklater Pavilion in Lewes. This event showcases local community energy initiatives, encouraging new groups to take up community energy, scaling up our low carbon future and making local green growth jobs.

It is free to visit any of the houses and all are welcome and you can just turn up. On arrival you can learn about a whole range of eco-renovation ideas from better insulation to heating controls, solar thermal, rain-water recycling, to ecological and permaculture garden design. More details are on the website and in brochures available in Lewes Tourist Information Centre, the library, shops and cafes. Come along and be inspired!
ENDS Editor’s notes
1. Lewes homes will open on the weekend of 13-14 September 2014, and Barcombe, Ditchling and rural homes will open on the weekend of 20-21 September. Further information available on website

2. The event is organised by Transition Town Lewes Energy Group in collaboration with Barcombe Energy Group and Hassocks, Keymer, Ditchling Transition.

3. The 2014 event is funded by Green Open Homes and the Federation of Open Homes Networks and we also gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Lewes District Council.

4. More photos available from website gallery –

5. The Community Energy Fortnight conference, Powering Our Communities, is organised by Community Energy South. It takes place on 19th Sept at the Linklater Pavilion, Lewes. Further details and booking at



Press Release - 2nd August 2013

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Lewes and district Eco Open Houses is running its fourth annual event showcasing homes that inspire with ideas for green living and cutting energy bills. It will be held on the weekends of 14th-15th and 21st-22nd September.

This year, 16 eco-friendly homes will open their doors to the public, nine for the first time.  Lewes homes will open on 14th-15th September, and Barcombe, Ditchling and surrounding villages will open on 21st-22nd September.

The inspiring homes on show range from renovated Victorian cottages to 1960's conversions and stunning architect designed new-build properties.  Properties in the villages and countryside feature exciting off grid measures such as air, ground and water source heat pumps, as well as being examples of good eco building. All have drastically cut their electricity, gas and water bills as well as carbon emissions. 

The homes are free to visit and all are welcome.  Visitors can see and hear how - with a bit of determination and imagination - it is possible to make cost effective alterations that will significantly reduce a home's energy consumption.

Further information, case studies and photos can be found on our dedicated website - - and a brochure with full details will be available from late August in local shops, the library and tourist office.

Lewes highlights include the popular Wille Cottages, a model of what can be done in a Victorian cottage, with super-insulation, magnetic strip secondary double glazing, creative use of LED lighting, and land-share vegetable growing.  An architect designed new-build property in the Wallands area features solar roof tiles and maximises passive solar gain with a glazed southern facade.

Village and countryside properties featured include Knowlands Farm Granary with a water source heat pump, large solar panel array, and sustainable woodland.  Visitors can also see The Cube, an innovative compact home that provides everything a single person might need within its 3x3x3 m interior.

Cllr Ruth O’Keefe, Mayor of Lewes, said, “Anyone who is concerned about rising gas and electricity bills will find inspiration and practical information about how to cut their fuel bills and stay warm in winter.  Cutting energy use doesn’t have to be expensive and disruptive, and there are some ingenious and cheap ideas here, such as finding the right LED lightbulbs and new secondary glazing products that are almost invisible on your windows."

Neil Williams, organiser of the event, whose Lewes home will be opened to the public on 14th and 15th September, said, “The UK’s CO2 reduction targets and ever increasing fuel prices mean that houses like these are going to have to become the norm, rather than the exception. Events like this are crucial for giving practical insights and inspiring people to follow their example.”

Notes for editors

1.  The event is organised by Transition Town Lewes Energy group in collaboration with Barcombe Energy Group and Hassocks, Keymer, Ditchling Transition.

2. Further information regarding the event is available from the organiser, Neil Williams, at [email protected]. For anything regarding publicity, please contact ´╗┐Kirsten Firth, who can be contacted via Neil.

3. Photos available from this website at

4.  Ovesco is hosting a community energy event as part of the Community Energy Fortnight at the Linklater Pavilion on Friday 6th September.  Further details available at