Full-scale house under microscope at energy study lab

A Coronation Street-style terraced house is to be built inside a laboratory in a bid to test ways to make old homes more energy efficient, a Greater Manchester university has said.

A Coronation Street-style terraced house is to be built inside a laboratory in a bid to test ways to make old homes more energy efficient, a Greater Manchester university has said.

The "energy house" will be built within a three-storey, sealed testing chamber, and will not only have original brickwork and a roof but will be fully furnished and fitted out with water, gas and electricity supplies.

The University of Salford said the two-up, two-down brick house, replicating more than two million ageing terraced homes, will be subject to a range of tests to measure its energy consumption and devise ways to save on heating and electricity.

The testing chamber will feature its own climate system which can generate different weather conditions, allowing researchers to see how the house performs in different situations as part of efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and energy use by domestic properties.

According to the university, the UK's least energy efficient properties were predominantly constructed before 1920. And with 70 per cent of the UK's existing housing stock set to still be inhabited in 2050, researchers hope to use the house built at the university's new Energy Hub research centre to find ways to improve home energy efficiency and cut domestic greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to testing new insulation, double glazing and low-energy appliances, the university's Energy Hub will involve psychologists, health experts and sociologists alongside engineers and scientists to devise sustainable solutions to tackling greenhouse gases.

The university researchers will explore if the use of certain colours and wall coverings do influence the way householders perceive temperature, whether smart meters which show real-time use of energy in the home can change behaviour and if games consoles like Nintendo's Wii can be powered in the future by the physical energy generated by the user.

Professor Steve Donnelly, dean of the University of Salford's faculty of science, engineering and the environment, said: "We need to find ways to make these old-build properties more efficient as they will continue to house people for generations to come.

"But to cost-effectively retrofit old properties and make them as carbon-efficient as possible requires detailed and robust research. To work out how homes perform under different conditions, and the most effective ways of reducing energy consumption, requires replicating one in laboratory conditions."

The Energy House scheme is supported by environmental campaigner and former executive director of Friends of the Earth, Tony Juniper, who said: "Domestic energy use accounts for a huge proportion of emissions. If we are to have any chance of meeting targets to cut greenhouse gas pollution from UK homes by 29 per cent by 2020, we must focus on improving energy efficiency in all kinds of properties, including the millions of terraced houses like this one."

Recent articles

Info Message

Our sites use cookies to support some functionality, and to collect anonymous user data.

Learn more about IET cookies and how to control them

Close