High-tech low-carbon house will slash energy bills for residents

Cutting a ribbon of electricity billsA new low carbon home in Hawkhurst, built with the latest green technologies is expected to slash energy bills by around three quarters.

Town & Country Housing Group, which owns more than 8,000 affordable homes in the south east, is using the two-bedroom house to trial new building techniques and low carbon technologies.

Town & Country will monitor the performance and the use of all of the technology in the house, which is in Fieldways, Hawkhurst. They will also get feedback from the tenants after the first year to find out what it was like living in the house. It is hoped that the lessons learned from this will show how the housing association can reduce energy in both its new and existing homes.

New residents Joanna and Thomas Clarke and their four-month-old son Finley will benefit from extremely low fuel bills. Solar tiles on the roof provide electricity and hot water; it also features high levels of insulation, low energy light fittings and a rainwater harvesting system. A ground source heat pump provides heating and tops up the hot water.

As a result it meets Level 5, the second highest level of the Code for Sustainable Homes, the efficiency rating against which all new homes are assessed. A typical two-bedroom house costs around £1,200 in energy bills; this house will cost around £300.

Mrs Clarke said: “We’re really looking forward to having our own space. It will be our first home as a married couple. We’ve been living with my mum for the past three years. We’re excited about moving in but we’re not fazed by the technology as my mum’s house has a solar panel on it.”

Town & Country invited Mr and Mrs Clarke to officially declare their new home open at a special ceremony on Friday 2 July. They cut a ribbon made out of electricity bills to symbolise the energy bills they will be cutting in their new home.

The ceremony was attended by guests from councils and other organisations from across the South East, keen to see how the technology could be used in their local area. The house, which cost £205,000 to build, was built on land already owned by the housing association and was carefully designed to blend in with the character of the other homes in the street.

Town & Country’s acting development director Colin Lissenden said: “As a responsible landlord, we have built this house as a demonstration of renewable energy technologies which will help to reduce the impact of the fuel price rises that would affect people on lower incomes significantly in the future.

“Not all future developments will achieve such an excellent energy rating, the lessons learned from this project will be valuable and enable our homes to be more energy efficient.

“Although it is full of modern technology, we wanted to make sure that it is pleasant to live in and would like to wish Mr and Mrs Clarke and baby Finley well in their new home.”

Akin Durowoju, Head of area at the Homes and Communities Agency which gave a grant of £100,000 towards the project said: “Town & Country Housing Group have developed an outstanding scheme, demonstrating what can be achieved in designing and building low carbon sustainable homes. The HCA is delighted to have been able to support this project to bring forward a scheme that will help the new residents save money in their energy bills, as well as protecting the environment.”

The house was designed by Cowan Architects, and built by Denne Construction with specialist consultancy and energy assessment from calfordseaden.

Some of the house’s key features include:
•    Lifetime Homes compliance
•    Triple glazed timber windows
•    Water efficient shower, WCs and taps
•    Natural (low toxin) paints
•    Internal & external recycling facilities