Monitoring energy efficiency in our new homes
At a time when the UK Fuel Poverty Advisory Group says that a rise in fuel bills is forcing people to spend more than 10 per cent of their annual income on heating their homes, putting them in the category of fuel impoverished, we are monitoring energy data collected from 15 of our highly sustainable new homes in Neath to see how well the energy efficient features are performing.
The homes at Golwg y Dre in Cimla which were completed in October have been built to Level 5 of the Code for Sustainable Homes and incorporate various features to make the homes cheaper to heat. We monitor the data to find out how much energy these homes actually use which will enable us to work out how much money the families are saving on their energy bills.
Rosy Steel, a student who is working with Gwalia to monitor the homes as part of her graduate studies in environmental architecture said “Fuel poverty is expected to affect nine million UK homes by 2016 which is why it’s really important to incorporate sustainable features into new build homes.”
“We’re using a new product called Energy Lens to monitor energy usage which will not only allow us to identify how much energy is being saved, but also when and where energy is being wasted enabling us to advise families how they could be saving more money on their utility bills.”
The homes at Golwg y Dre have been built with Supawall, an insulated timber frame system that reduces heat loss, other features include photovoltaic panels, energy efficient lighting, rainwater harvesting and highly economical central heating systems. The homes achieved 100% energy improvement over the Building Regulations baseline and are just one level away from being zero carbon.
Rosy commented “At the moment we’ve only got two months’ worth of data and won’t get an overall picture for another few months yet. It’ll be really interesting to see how the homes have performed in the recent snap of cold weather. Once we have more data we can use it to advise tenants how to save extra money and Gwalia will also use it to inform the sustainability of future homes.”