Superhomes Provide Glimpse into the Future for UK Homeowners

By Rob Hull on August 12, 2010

The need to conserve energy whilst reducing carbon emissions has been widely publicised in the UK. Some households have made changes large and small in an effort to tackle global warming, yet the purpose of installing  loft insulation, solar panels and other such green energy measures is not entirely about saving the planet; indeed, the process can also save homeowners substantial amounts of money on energy bills.

Recently, the ‘Superhomes’ scheme, which is operated by the Sustainable Energy Academy and the National Energy Foundation, opened to the public in a bid to advertise the benefits of making homes more energy efficient.

The Sustainable Energy Academy plans to create a network of 200 superhomes across England and Wales; at present, the scheme has produced a quarter of this figure and hit a milestone recently when the 50th superhome opened to the public.

Located in Welwyn Village, Tony Almond’s 1968 five-bedroom detached house has been retrofitted to become the scheme’s 50th superhome.

Costing approximately £25,000, the retrofit includes the installation of double glazing, cavity wall insulation, 250mm loft insulation, 100mm underfloor insulation and draught-proofing. The most notable change to Mr Almond’s home, however, can be found on its roof.

Having been laid with sedum, Mr Almond’s roof was fitted with 3kWp solar photovoltaic panels in February 2010. Since the panels were fitted, the household has not received an electricity bill; in fact, the property’s electricity meter is running backwards. Under the previous Government’s feed-in tariff scheme, Mr Almond’s solar panel installation has earned the household a substantial £681.45.

The Government’s ‘Green Deal’, which offers loans of up to £10,000 per household for energy efficiency improvements, aims to encourage more homeowners to retrofit their homes in pursuit of a greener future.

Greg Barker, the Minister for Climate Change, said of the scheme: “This groundbreaking legislation will allow us to offer consumers the ability to install energy efficiency measures in their homes without any upfront costs or payments. These would be paid back over time through savings on energy bills”.

Although a £10,000 loan would not fully pay for a superhome retrofit, which costs between £15,000 and £25,000 on average, it would nonetheless help households improve their energy efficiency.

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