What’s so low Carbon about the house?

Early on we commissioned Arup to undertake a feasibility into minimising the Carbon footprint (how much Carbon dioxide is produced in heating, lighting etc) of the house. Working closely with them on the early design stages allowed us to test various options to improve the configuration of the house to benefit from passive solar gain (winter sun heating the house) and to minimise heat losses.
The Passive systems we adopted are:
A) Highly insulating the building fabric to minimise wastage of any heat put in to heat the house.
B) Orientating the living spaces of the house to the South to benefit from passive warming from the sun.

In order to further reduce the Carbon footprint we looked at various Active systems:
A) Ground coupled heat pump heating underfloor heating
B) Solar thermal heating
C) Photovoltaic solar panels to generate electricity
D) Domestic wind turbine to generate electricity
E) Low energy lighting to minimise electrictal load.
F) Rainwater harvesting

After looking at the comparative benefits of each, A), C) and E) offered the largest reduction in combination. I’ll detail what, why and how much in my next posting……

Wind turbine


3 Responses to What’s so low Carbon about the house?

  1. chris says:

    Like the blog. Intrigued by your active systems A) – E) and your conclusion. Aren’t the photovoltaics very uneconomic to buy and install over mains electricity? How much of your house will they power (or what bits?) I would have thought that rain water harbesting would be a very good bet given the rising cost of water and the wasted energy in purifying it to be washed straight down the loo by the domestic user. On what criteria have you decided against it? For my part, I am in the process of installing ground source heat as an alternative to gas / oil deliveries and am wondering whether I can drive the pumps required for running the water round the system using photovoltaics. Do you have any thoughts on that?

    Thanks, Chris

  2. Luke Tozer says:

    Photovoltaics are rather uneconomic and the technology seems to keep improving so we are waiting until towards the end of the build to install them. We were looking at getting 15% or so of our electricity needs through them but had to scale back to 5-7.5% approx due to planning objections from neighbours.
    It should help to offset and run the heat pump at least. Re your installation: it rather depends on the amount of photovoltaics and the size of the heat pump you will be using.
    We have ended going for rainwater harvesting system and have installed a 1200ltr tank below ground.
    Blog will be updated soon but things are hectic on site and I haven’t managed to post recently.
    Best wishes

  3. As for my understanding a Low Carbon house does require an automated ventilation system including heat recovery in order to avoid the losses of venting the house. I had ii in a house which I converterted from an old workshop building already in 1982 and now, in our new house build in 02 we have it again. I can say from personal experience this is the best you can do for healthy living and a healthy construction.
    All the best from Scotland

    Christian A. Wittke

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