Going back in time to create zero-carbon homes

by Stephen Hurrell. Published Wed 05 Aug 2009 11:02, Last updated: 2009-08-05
The Thirties' house could hold the key to a low carbon future

The answer to creating a zero-carbon modern home could be found in an energy-inefficient 1930s house.

Last year researchers at the University of Nottingham built a replica 1930s house complete with electrical heaters and single-glazed windows. They now intend to upgrade the home with energy-saving measures in order to convert it into a zero-carbon home.

Double-glazing, loft insulation, cavity insulation and a range of other energy-saving measures will be installed over the next two weeks and energy use will be monitored.

Researchers hope the house will provide solutions for millions of UK householders who wish to meet the Government’s 2017 CO2 targets for housing.

The three-year project is being led by experts from the School of the Built Environment together with the energy firm E.ON.

The 1930s house has been fitted with more than 100 sensors constantly monitoring temperature, humidity and energy use. For the last eight months a research fellow at the University, Changhong Zhan, has been living in the house to assess the amount of energy loss in the building.

He said: “In general it’s a bit uncomfortable living in the E.ON House. We have no central heating, only electrical heaters. To save electricity and money we tried to stay in one room, normally the dining room, and turned off electrical heaters in other rooms.

"If we moved into other rooms we would feel cold, especially when having a bath or a shower. When we went out we had to check that each electrical heater was switched off.

"A hot water bottle was often used at night to keep warm and save electricity. To prevent cold air coming into the room, we squeezed papers into gaps of windows and doors.”

Over three million homes were built during the 1930s, with many still standing today. It is believed the research could help to benefit homeowners in all types of house.

Dr Mark Gillott, who is leading the research, said: “The house provides us with a unique test facility to measure the exact cost benefit, energy efficiency and carbon reduction figures achieved through the various upgrade measures we are implementing over the next two weeks — valuable information when deciding on which of the many energy-efficiency measures are the most cost effective.”

The house, which was given special planning permission to be constructed, is one of six homes built by E.ON on University Park as part of an energy-efficient homes project. The project aims to test different technologies to be used in energy-efficient homes in the future.

Dave Clarke, Head of Research and Development at E.ON, said: “Recently we’ve been attempting to find out where the house was losing hot air by pressurising the building and then attempting to monitor where the worst of the heat loss was. What we found was that we simply couldn’t pressurise the house — there were so many leaks that, as soon as we pumped air in, it was coming out.

“This might be the extreme example but millions of us live in homes like this. Our homes are responsible for almost a third of the CO2 emitted in the UK, so any benefits we identify here could go on to lower the bills and the carbon footprint of millions of families.”

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Comments about Going back in time to create zero-carbon homes

There are many other ways of promoting your business without spamming!
@Brian, UK around 4 years, 4 months ago
Yes there is only one way - to build a Zero Carbon home or Passive house - Standard in Europe 2017!! http://www.germanpassivehouses.co.uk
Brian, UK around 4 years, 4 months ago

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