Green Homes Network

Green Homes SC321 in Alexandria

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Mary Sweetland and her husband needed to move out of their 1950’s bungalow. As well as being draughty and expensive to heat, the concrete floors were starting to disintegrate and the metal windows needed to be replaced. Rather than upgrade the existing property they were inspired to demolish it and build a zero-carbon Passive House in its place.

Mary Sweetland and her husband moved in to their Passivhaus in 2013, after demolishing their “rather boring” bungalow the year before. Grand Designs aficionados will know that a Passive House (also called a Passivhaus) is a super-insulated, airtight, low-energy house, using solar panels to generate electricity and hot water. A Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery System circulates air around the house and keeps an even temperature.

A few lifestyle changes have been necessary for adapting to life in their new home. Mary and her husband try to use appliances when their solar PV panels are generating electricity; even when the sun is low in the sky they can produce enough energy to run the washing machine. Their oven has never been so clean - it’s got a pyrotechnic function, so when she knows the system is producing 2kw for two hours Mary can switch it on and turn all the grease to ash for free! They hardly use the tumble drier; since the ambient temperature in the house is 17-18c the couple’s clothes dry quickly on an airer. In fact the temperature in the house means they’ve had to recycle the high tog bedding into dog beds! A three tog quilt in winter and one tog in summer is all they need. During summer they seldom have to top-up the temperature of the hot water, but when there is a run of dull days then there is a backup 3kw immerser, which they try and use when they’re generating electricity. All their lighting is powered by LED bulbs and they use A+ rated kitchen appliances.

In 2014 their solar PV panels generated 2,720KWh (almost 10% lower than 2013 due to a duller winter and spring) and they received £527 from Feed in Tariff payments. They used 2850KWh in electricity during the year at a cost of £446, giving them a net gain of £81, which buys logs for the stove! The energy costs for their old bungalow were nearer £1,500 (electricity, LPG, coal, logs) and it was half the size of their new house.

Mary originally planned to install an air source heat pump, but has found that they don’t need it. During a winter frost the outside temperature overnight was down to -6C, but stayed above 14C in the house with no additional heating. They have a log burner which is useful to raise the temperature up to 20C when needed.

With a 96% energy efficient house, Mary and her husband are making a contribution to tackling climate change by reducing their carbon footprint. Two issues remain for them to resolve; cleaning all the triple glazed windows and removing cobwebs from the 6m vaulted ceiling. To anyone considering a similar project Mary says “costs have come down and it works even in the wet West of Scotland”.

*Please note, from time to time the Feed in Tariff will be reduced (for new applicants only). As such the FIT payments described in a Green Homes Network case study might be higher than what is currently available for new applicants. Anyone who is already claiming FIT will not have their tariffs reduced.

Post 2003
Solar PVSolar water heating
A-rated appliance(s)Draught proofingExternal wall insulationFloor insulationHot water cylinder and pipes insulationLoft InsulationLow energy lighting systemsMechanical heat recovery ventilationRecyclingTriple glazing

Event: Green Homes SC321

17 September in Alexandria

A fabulous Passive House built in the Alexandria area.

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