NHBC Foundation examines the technologies used in low and zero carbon homes

Published:  14 June, 2012

UK: House builders are increasingly incorporating low and zero carbon (LZC) technologies into new homes as part of their approach to achieving the on-site performance requirements expected from the Government’s target for all new homes to be zero carbon from 2016. But which technologies are being installed, and what do the occupiers of these homes feel about them?

Carried out by the School of Construction Management and Engineering at Reading University and in collaboration with the Zero Carbon Hub, a survey of low and zero carbon technologies in new housing presents the findings of further research among house builders and occupiers of homes with LZC technologies installed, to understand which technologies are becoming dominant (or not) and to better understand users day-to-day experiences.

Confirming and expanding on the findings from Today’s attitudes to low and zero carbon homes: views of occupiers, house builders and housing associations published in February 2012, the new results show that:

  • house builders are using a range of LZC technologies, although most rely on one or two technologies only
  • solar thermal and solar PV are the most commonly used technologies
  • biomass, renewable micro-combined heat and micro-combined heat and power systems are more frequently used in use in apartments
  • most house builders agree that solar-based technologies will play the most significant role leading up to and beyond 2016
  • occupiers lacked information from the house builder on the benefits or day-to-day operation of the LZC technologies fitted to their homes
  • there is evidence of occupiers reducing the performance of their LZC technologies by working around the controls to suit their own lifestyle
  • occupiers were uncertain how the use of LZC technologies affected their energy bills.

Ted Chandler, NHBC Foundation, said: “This report provides further evidence of the importance of considering the needs of occupiers when installing LZC technologies into new homes. It is essential that occupiers not only understand the technologies, but also how they should be used to deliver the expected performance and contribute to lower energy bills for the home. Robust products, user knowledge and ease of operation should go a long way to ensure that LZC technologies fitted into the new homes are used correctly and guarantee that they are not, as in the worst cases, turned off.”

Additional findings from the study of occupiers living in homes fitted with LZC technologies will be presented in a subsequent report once the research has concluded later in the year.

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