Green Homes Network

Green Home SW298 in Beith

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Having lived in the previous house for over 30 years the objective of the new-build was: 

• to be fully draught-proofed
• to have no cold spots 
• to have even heat throughout
• to be cheaper to run. 

Alexander has been meticulous with his plans and has taken a “slow but thorough” approach to ensure a quality build.

“The inspiration came from not wanting to have a draughty and hard-to-heat building with expensive oil fired heating. We didn’t want any form of wet heating system.”

The house is heated by a 12kW Burley Wakerly log-burning stove installed by Focal Point Hillington. The heat produced is then kept in the building through the insulation and the airtightness. From here, heat recovery technology is used to recycle the heat.

A mechanical heat recovery ventilation system installed by EPD Irvine controls the one entry point in the house where air is expelled and fresh air brought in. Here, the heat from the old air warms the fresh air coming into the home, keeping a constant supply of warm and fresh air circulating around the house. This means there are no cold spots and a constant temperature is maintained throughout the building.

This heat recovery system filters the air in each room, removing moisture from bathrooms and kitchens as well as dust. It is only used occasionally during April to October as the house is generally warm enough, but Alexander likes to use it briefly when someone is showering to extract moisture or after the wood-burning stove has been on to get some moisture back into the air. 

There is also an exhaust air heat pump which provides all of the household’s hot water, installed by ESP Scotland. It takes the warm air from the house (working best with air above 16 degrees C) and keeps a 300L water cylinder at 55 degrees C, bringing the temperature up to 62 degrees C every 200 hours to kill legionella bacteria. Alexander says it takes around an hour to bring it up to the target temperature and the A-rated compressor doesn’t use a lot of electricity.

These two systems (heat recovery and heat pump) are both controlled manually and separately from each other.  However, they are connected on the same ducting system. If they were to be controlled automatically together then it would require a whole house control system. This is part of the reason why the cost has been kept relatively low. As the ducting and house is fully insulated, the noise from these systems is fairly minimal and Alexander describes it as “quite quiet”.

A 4kW solar PV system was installed onto their south-facing roof by Scottish Solar which captures energy from the sun, turning it into electricity. During the day time when the panels are generating this can be used to power the various A-rated appliances: LED lighting, dishwasher, fridge, the ovens and the induction hob. 

Power from the sun is also trapped in the form of heat by the triple glazing that is installed throughout the home, a process called solar gain. Alexander did all the glazing himself and the insulation too which consisted of: 

• 195mm of Quinntherm Polyurethene insulation in the floors and walls, 
• 145mm of the same material in the roof, 
• and lastly 400mm of Kanuf Earthwool went in the loft.

“We have gone beyond building regulations in terms of insulation and also in sealing the property making it air tight, and it seems to be paying off. The air permeability tightness figure of 1.386 justifies the time it took me to build it.”

The result is that the inside of the building rarely falls below 16-20 degrees C and they have virtually no fuel bills as the building generates electricity while demand is low. 

While happy to recommend the technologies, Alexander says he is unsure as to whether it would be cost effective if he hadn’t done much of the work on a self-build basis to achieve the same high standards. He would also like to specify that a lot of the house is fully manual, the systems being turned on when they need to be as they are both at home and retired. 
Post 2003
Solar PVBiomass stove
A-rated appliance(s)Floor insulationInternal wall insulationLoft InsulationMechanical heat recovery ventilationTriple glazing

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