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Aimee Walshaw IEA DSM Task 24 Trondheim Workshop

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Aimee Walshaw IEA DSM Task 24 Trondheim Workshop

  1. 1. Towards low energy housing in the UK: learning lessons from the user Aimee Walshaw (with Barry Goodchild and Fin O'Flaherty) Research Fellow
  2. 2. • Between 2009 and 2013 a series of research projects into low energy housing prioritising the user as a key actor in the success of low energy housing • The projects have very different geneses but collectively offer insights into the barriers that exist to maximising the potential of low energy housing to reduce carbon emissions and alleviate fuel poverty Introduction
  3. 3. • UK national carbon delivery plan (DECC 2011, 30): "By 2050 the carbon footprint of our buildings will need to be almost zero" • How can this be done? – By decarbonising mainstream energy sources (nuclear, biomass, wind farms). – By changing the design of new homes and modernising old homes to reduce energy demand and incorporate energy generation • One will be insufficient without the other and a combination will be required. Therefore radical changes in the way our homes look and function cannot be avoided. Carbon reduction policy in the UK
  4. 4. • In principle, low energy homes are a win-win situation for all- reducing emissions, bills and fuel poverty • However, the financial impact of an eco-home is not as advantageous to occupants as might be thought, for two main reasons: – The rebound effect: households use lower heating costs to achieve higher temperatures leading to little or no carbon or financial savings (Sorrell et al 2008). – Residents are often unable to use their home in the most economical way because they don't know how, their Social Housing Provider (SHP) or developer creates barriers to them getting the best out of the technology or the equipment underperforms. • These problems are more likely to be experienced by low income households. Low energy homes: a win-win situation?
  5. 5. • These lessons have been derived from three separate research projects undertaken with the aim of elucidating the user perspective on different types of low energy housing: – retrofit schemes where micro generation technologies are installed in older housing – innovative new build eco-homes – new build powered by communal biomass heating Case studies
  6. 6. • 2009-2011 several studies of the impact of micro renewable energy technologies installed in traditional C19th terraced properties in England with the aim of alleviating fuel poverty. • Two types of technology installed: solar thermal hot water (STHW) and solar photovoltaic (PV). • Study examined energy cost savings before and after the intervention. Case 1: retrofit involving micro generation
  7. 7. • Savings to residents were negligible at that time (and offset by fuel price increases) • Residents were focussed on actual costs rather than energy consumption • Savings would have increased if installation had been accompanied by comprehensive upgrading of building fabric • Residents also found the technology difficult to understand and feared breakdown. Case 1: retrofit involving micro generation (2)
  8. 8. • Residents responses to micro-generation led to detailed research into residents experiences of living in a fully fledged eco- home. Three videos were prepared featuring first hand accounts from the residents • Three eco schemes (two social housing, one private). • Dramatic variations in practical understanding of the eco-technology- some coped easily but many did not Case 2: Living in an innovative eco-home
  9. 9. Case 2: Living in an innovative eco-home (2) • several residents stated that they had not touched the heating controls from the day they moved in • another had been advised to leave her thermostat permanently at 30 degrees
  10. 10. Case 2: Living in an innovative eco-home (2) • another believed that her STHW panels would deliver free electricity
  11. 11. Case 2: Living in an innovative eco-home (2) others had embraced the 'eco-lifestyle' and revelled in the savings they were making
  12. 12. Case 2: Living in an innovative eco-home • there were also examples of residents disabling their fridges and freezers and getting rid of their cars
  13. 13. • To view the films and join the debate visit www.facebook.com/MyEcoHomeSHU Case 2: Living in an innovative eco-home
  14. 14. • The need to build at higher densities in London has led to an increase in Biomass District Heating (BDH) schemes developed by social SHPs • BDH combined with high insulation is favoured approach of the Carbon Delivery Plan • Two recent BDH schemes were examined • The two SHPs approached these schemes in very different ways Case 3: responding to biomass district heating
  15. 15. • Scheme 1: the SHP became the energy supplier (ESCo) to it's tenants selling energy to them at cost • Scheme 2: the SHP avoided financial liability by installing pre-payment meters with the result that tenants paid almost double for their HHW compared to those in scheme 1 • The technology was effective at reducing HHW costs but SHPs were gatekeepers to potential savings Case 3: responding to biomass district heating (2)
  16. 16. • Energy is consumed by people in interaction with their surrounding, it is not consumed by buildings as such. • The occupants and the SHPs are therefore as much part of the energy systems in the home as the fabric and technology. • Designers, developers, SHPs and policy makers should therefore: • look at the home from the occupants’ perspective through consultation and post-occupancy surveys • avoid over-optimistic promises of reduced energy bills • provide support to occupants when they move in and training for frontline staff • work to minimise the technical complexity of low carbon technologies and maximise user friendliness The lessons
  17. 17. • a.walshaw@shu.ac.uk • +44 114 2256297 Thank you for listening
  18. 18. • DECC- Department of Energy and Climate Change (Corporate author) (2011) The Carbon Plan: Delivering our low carbon future: Presented to Parliament pursuant to Sections 12 and 14 of the Climate Change Act 2008: Amended 2nd December 2011 from the version laid before Parliament on 1st December 2011, London, Crown Copyright. • Sorrell, S., Dimitropoulos, J. & Sommerville, M. (2009) ‘Empirical estimates of the direct rebound effect: A review’, Energy Policy 37: 1356–71 References

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