07:40 Friday 23rd January 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
DOTTY MCLEOD: What would you do to live in a house rent or mortgage free, generally bill free, for a whole year? That is exactly what the Rayner family is doing right now in Trumpington, after winning a newspaper competition. It’s not any old house though. This is zero-carbon. It’s an eco-home, built from the ground up using the latest green technology, not only to clean up the environment, but also to help them save lots of cash. Well, not to be out-done by the latest technology, our reporter Waseem Mirza went along to take a look at this new zero-carbon house in his zero-carbon car.
WASEEM MIRZA: Ok, so I’ve arrived outside the Rayners’ house, and I’m going to plug the car, which is electric, into the charging spot right in front of their front door. Ok, so all plugged in. Time to meet the family. (DOORBELL) Hello Mr Rayner. Good to meet you.
MR RAYNER: And you.
WAZSEE MIRZA: So you’re going to take me on a bit of a tour. Let’s begin.
MR RAYNER: Excellent. Right well let’s go straight up to the first-floor, because the most important room in the house is the children’s. When we first came into the house the children just loved it. They ran straight up to their bedroom. Got their big chalk wall to play on. They draw on the walls, and trying to stop them drawing on the other walls is a bit of a challenge. But apart from that it is brilliant.
WASEEM MIRZA: And a lovely view outside as well. Very large windows. A lot of glass there. One would have thought that there’d be an opportunity to lose a lot of heat because of the size of the glass, but that’s not the case.
MR RAYNER: With the triple-glazing it’s amazing. You could stand there. It’s just like a solid wall. And the other thing is we live in quite a built-up area, so even though you can’t hear anything. There’s planes flying past and cars, and you just wouldn’t know where you were. it’s amazing.
LORNA RAYNER: I’m Lorna Rayner. So we moved in on 12th January. First of all we were just bowled over, because it’s such a lovely house. Really excited to move in and get settled really.
MR RAYNER: When we first moved in it felt like a hotel, if I’m honest. It was amazing walking around. It didn’t really sink in until the second day when we sat here and we thought, we actually are living here, rather than on holiday.
WASEEM MIRZA: This zero-carbon eco-home was built by the housebuilder Hill. Alex Rice is a consultant.
ALEX RICE: Technology) is an important part of this property. You build a well-insulated air-tight building, with triple-glazed windows, that stays naturally comfortable most of the time. And that means that all you then need technology to do is a little bit of heating from a normal gas boiler, and the only pieces of technology that you probably wouldn’t be familiar with is that we have solar panels on the roof. The roof is also what’s called a green roof, so it has plants growing on it to maintain local bio-diversity. And the rain that comes off of that roof is captured and stored in a tank in the back garden. And that’s used to flush the toilet. And we have heat recovery ventilation, which ensures really good indoor air-quality all the time.
WASEEM MIRZA: The Rayners will be monitored for a year to see how the home impacts their well-being and green credentials. So what impact will the experience have?
LORNA RAYNER: I think learning about the technology in the house and the way the house is designed will definitely make us view houses in the future a lot differently. We’ll be looking for perhaps different things, and it’s given us a great opportunity to save money.
MR RAYNER: We’ve always been interested in electric cars, and my only experience is watching Top Gear and seeing how they all work. But that is something we’d really like to get into, and I think it’s something we’re going to look into potentially. As we’ve got the opportunity with the point outside, it would be an ideal opportunity to test them out and have a go.
WASEEM MIRZA: With a busy family and a new arrival due in February, this could be an interesting experiment.
DOTTY MCLEOD: That’s Waseem Mirza reporting there with the Rayner family. Well Dr Chris Foulds is a member of Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute. Chris, are we all going to be living in houses like this soon?
CHRIS FOULDS: Well I don’t think in necessarily the direct short-term. But hopefully in the long-term, yes. These houses are fantastic and definitely needed, and it’s really clear that we need to reduce our energy demand and our carbon emissions. So gradually the Government’s building regulations are slowly pulling us in that direction. So maybe in a few decades or so we will be, yes.
DOTTY MCLEOD: They do cost though, don’t they?
CHRIS FOULDS: They do cost, but as you mentioned in your news report, if you look at the cost over the whole life of the building, so the operational running costs, then you do end up saving a lot during its lifetime. So the energy bill savings by far outweigh the additional cost of construction.
DOTTY MCLEOD: have you got just one or two tips for the rest of us who don’t live in a super-duper eco-house, for what we can do in our house to make things more eco?
CHRIS FOULDS: Well I think it’s really about how you live your everyday lives really. So some facts out there such as turning the thermostat down by one degree often saves you around 9% on your gas bill, your heating bill. So that’s often really good to do. Turning the washing machine down from forty to thirty. Often these really small actions actually have really big impact.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Chris Foulds, thank you. Dr Chris Foulds I should say from Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute.