During the whistle-stop 50 minute visit, Nick White (Director & Project resident) gave the Minister and an accompanying Guardian journalist a quick tour of his house and explained how they worked, what was successful and what lessons had been learnt over the last 9 years.
Summary of points made to Minister
What can be achieved?
- Ultra low energy homes (25% energy use compared to homes built to current building regulations) by primarily focusing on reducing space heating
- Ultra low energy homes need not cost any more to build – BUT need to remove complex spaced heating systems and use savings to invest in insulation & glazing
- Increase in thermal comfort
- Long term energy cost savings (approx. £1000/annum for HHP homes versus average UK home)
- Future proofing householders against rising energy/water costs
- Zero carbon homes …BUT currently at a cost due to expensive renewables.
- Perceived premium costs for environmental building
- Attitudes towards keeping complex space heating
- Love affair with high technology & gizmos!
- Micro-Renewables currently expensive and too much emphasis on payback rather than return on investment.
- Get the structure/basics right early on in design
- Energy conservation first, second & third…then generation
- Complex heating systems are very poor value for money compared to use of high levels of insulation as part of construction
- Technology invariably disappoints in terms of performance and durability
- Energy generation costs a premium
- Micro-wind very site sensitive and unlikely to perform in urban environments
- Design should limit on-costs & maintenance
- Keep it simple ….easier/cheaper and less wasteful.