Available on catch-up

How can a house fight climate change?

How can a house fight climate change? is the first in a three-part series using science and design to investigate how our houses can be more sustainable. These lessons are aimed at upper key stage 2 classes (ages 9-11) but all are welcome to join.

In the first lesson, we will investigate how can science help to address the problem of 15% of UK carbon emissions coming from domestic heating. We analyse two houses using thermal imaging to see where all the heat is going. The second part of the lesson sees students performing a ‘roof insulation’ test to see what materials are best used for reducing heating costs.

Heating homes contributes 15 per cent to the UK’s territorial carbon emissions. With 80 per cent of houses still likely to be used by 2050, we can reduce these emissions substantially by retrofitting old homes to make them better insulated. This will cost on average £26,000 per home, or £27 billion a year for the next 25 years. However, this money could be swiftly recouped through energy savings.

Date TBD
  • 60 mins
  • KS2 / Ages 9-11
Learning objectives
  • Investigate how houses can lose heat energy
  • Examine the insulating properties of materials using fair tests
  • Investigate and analyse existing building materials

This is the first of a three-lesson series. Students may find it useful to learn through all three lessons, either live or on catch-up.

Student sheets to support the live lesson will be available for download. These will include support for the insulation activity, a maths extension activity, and a letter-writing template should classes wish to engage with decision-makers on this issue.

If you have never joined a live lesson before, visit the support centre, where you can find a range of technical and educational information.

Questions generated by your class can be submitted via the interaction app that will appear on this lesson page once you have booked the lesson.

Lesson steps

1. Introduction (5 minutes)

We welcome and introduce classes to the Homes for the future mini unit, sharing an overview of the lesson, as well as giving shout outs to students and schools.

2. Housing & climate change (5 mins)

When we think about helping to stop climate change, we are aware of individual actions that we can take such as eating a plant-based diet or walking and cycling to school. However, heating our homes is responsible for 15 per cent of carbon emissions. How has this happened and how big a problem is it?

3. Keeping warm (10 mins)

We visit a typical house on a cold day and compare how it looks through a standard camera and a thermal imaging camera. Students share why they think that different parts of the house are showing as hotter or colder on the outside. We then investigate how insulation affects heat loss.

4. Insulation investigation (10 mins)

Students investigate what effective insulating materials are. Classes can follow in real time with a classroom demonstration or just predict, observe, and conclude with the investigation performed from the studio. Students can complete their experiment record sheets and write their conclusions as a follow-on activity.

5. Q&A (15 mins)

After completing the activity, the team will answer pre-submitted and live chat questions. At the end of the broadcast, the host will suggest some other activities you might like to try and what's coming up in the rest of Homes for the future.

Teach the goals