Imagine a house that is not only extremely eco-friendly, but is also “energy positive” -- one that exports more energy to the electricity grid than it uses. Designers at Cardiff University’s Welsh School of Architecture announced Thursday that they had built a prototype of one such house.
“The Welsh and UK Governments -- and governments across the EU -- have set targets for very low ‘nearly zero’ energy buildings by 2020,” Phil Jones, a professor at the Welsh School of Architecture, said, in a statement. “Through this project we have risen to this challenge and used the latest design and technology to build the UK's first smart energy positive house.”
The three-bedroom house -- built as part of the Wales Low Carbon Research Institute’s Solcer (Smart Operation for a Low Carbon Energy Region) project -- was constructed in 16 weeks on an industrial estate in Wales. It cost just 125,000 pounds ($195,000) to build -- money that its builders claim can be earned back by selling excess energy.
In order to reduce energy consumption, the house -- built using low-carbon cement and locally sourced materials such as Welsh timber -- is fitted with massive amounts of insulation. The south-facing roof of the house has glazed solar photovoltaic panels, fully integrated into the design of the building, allowing the space below to be naturally lit. The house also has battery storage to run the combined heating, ventilation and hot water system, as well as the electrical power system, including appliances, LED lighting and a heat pump.
For every 100 pounds ($156) spent on electricity that the house consumes, it should be able to generate 175 pounds ($273) in electricity exports during summer months, Jones told the Guardian.
“The building demonstrates our leading edge low carbon supply, storage and demand technologies at a domestic scale which we hope will be replicated in other areas of Wales and the U.K. in the future,” Jones said, in the statement.
The house was built to meet the low-carbon housing targets set by the former Labour government in 2006. However, these targets, which were aimed at ensuring that all new houses from 2016 generate as much energy on-site as they consume, were scrapped last week. Carbon dioxide emissions from houses currently make up nearly a third of the U.K.’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. Estimates suggest that this figure could rise to over 50 percent by 2050.