Reduce Heating Demand

It’s perfectly possible to build a house that requires virtually no heating at all. If you insulate it well enough the heat emitted by people and appliances alone are enough to keep it warm. This isn’t new. Examples include the Whole Home, at the fantastic Centre for Alternative Technology (which you can visit), Hockerton Housing Project, or BedZed.

CAT's Whole House, 1976 The most insulated house in the UK. These houses require no heating systems. The heat emitted by people living in them is enough to keep them warm.
CAT’s Whole House, 1976
The most insulated house in the UK. These houses require no heating systems. The heat emitted by people living in them is enough to keep them warm.
A terrace of 5 houses in Nottinghamshire. They have good air tightness, and Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery.
Hockerton Housing Project, 1996
A terrace of 5 houses in Nottinghamshire. They have good air tightness, and Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery.
Large large south facing windows will maximise solar gain (capture warmth from the sun), while a north face with smaller windows and lots of insulation will reduce heat losses. In this case that means conservatories along the whole front of the terrace, and a field on the back.
Large large south facing windows will maximise solar gain (capture warmth from the sun), while a north face with smaller windows and lots of insulation will reduce heat losses. In Hockerton’s case that means conservatories along the whole front of the terrace, and a field on the back.

 

BedZED, 2002 Beddington Zero Energy Development, near London - urban housing constructed from materials sourced within 25 miles.
BedZED, 2002
Beddington Zero Energy Development, near London – urban housing constructed from materials sourced within 25 miles.

 

However, the UK housing stock isn’t generally quite up to that standard. The average family home faces heating bills of a thousand pounds a year. Typical heat losses are shown on the Before graphic.

The greenest thing you could do for most buildings usually doesn’t involve hi tech, expensive renewable technologies, impressive though they may look – it’s insulation, insulation and more insulation.