First low-cost zero-carbon ‘smart’ house built in the UK


House energy positive because of reduced energy demand, use of renewable energy generation and effective storage

THE first zero-carbon ‘smart’ house which exports more energy to the national grid than it takes in has been built, confounding Chancellor George Osborne who once described it as “impossible”.

The house, designed by professor Phil Jones of the Welsh School of Architecture at Cardiff University, costs no more than the average price of social housing to build, and was designed as a prototype for the UK Government’s commitment to zero-carbon housing and a new house standard of energy efficiency.

However, the UK Government dumped both of those commitments in March of this year, claiming it was not cost effective.

Professor Jones has confounded that claim, and he said: “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 house drastically reduces energy demand through high levels of insulation, and has an effective solar generation and battery storage system so that energy produced at the house can be used there.
During most months of the year, the home will export energy produced by it to the electric grid, while in winter months it will import it. The net effect is a positive renewable energy contribution.

Jones added: “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 UK in the future.”

Former Energy Secretary Ed Davey claimed the smart house was proof positive of the UK Government’s folly.

“The Zero Energy house shows that the abolition of the new home standard was reckless vandalism which will end up costing consumers and the country much more money in energy bills,” he said.

Jenny Holland, from the Association for Conservation of Energy, told the BBC : “We need an end to the short-sighted Treasury approach that only cares about building costs. Householders want to know how much the house costs to live in, not to build.

“People pay a little extra for an efficient fridge or freezer. If spending a little more provides a better house that has close to zero energy bills, the occupants are happy and we all reap the environmental rewards.”

UK homes are among the least energy efficient in Europe.

Picture courtesy of Cardiff University