Universities work together to give homes energy makeover

A project being undertaken by a partnership of six universities is set to help people create greener and more energy efficient homes without the upheaval of moving to an eco-house.

Project CALEBRE (Consumer-Appealing Low Energy technologies for Building REtrofitting) sees six universities researching how we can save energy and cut carbon emissions in the homes we live in now, with a specific focus on solid-wall houses. These are properties mainly built before 1920 and make up about a third of the UK’s housing stock.

“The aim of the project is to develop solutions that will be effective for existing homes and available to the majority of households. If real change is to happen then we must take into account the lifestyles and preferences of the household when coming to our conclusions and making recommendations,” says Professor Dennis Loveday, director of the Loughborough University’s Sustainability Research School and leader of the four year project.

“The information we gather will be used to improve the design of a range of energy efficiency technologies and make them more appealing to householders, as well as to test them in real life situations,” he continues. “We will also be exploring ways to finance domestic refurbishment technologies and roll them out on a mass scale, and the project plans to create a tool to identify the most suitable package of eco-measures for individual households.”

The next stage of the project will focus on the energy demand reduction technologies being proposed for UK homes. These include electric and gas-fired heat pumps, ventilation heat recovery systems and advanced insulation products like vacuum glazing.

Every household will require its own range of energy-saving measures which align with the limitations of the house and the lifestyle of its owners. The project will culminate in a computer tool that will be developed to identify the best emissions-busting menu for each individual household.

Professor Loveday is working on the project in conjunction with colleagues at the university as well as from the Universities of Heriot-Watt, Nottingham, Oxford, Ulster and Warwick.

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