The Solar House in Leicestershire, the first house in the UK to be fully powered by solar energy, has been completed and is now available to potential buyers.
The five bedroom timber construction, selling for £1.2m, is fitted with advanced features guaranteeing its sustainability, including high-tech solar panels, triple glazing and rainwater storage.
As the architects expected its future owners would most probably drive a fully electric car, the house is equipped with a charging point.
Caplin Homes, a company that has built the detached house, believes its hybrid solar panels collecting both electrical and thermal energy, are robust enough to provide heating, hot water and electricity to run the home throughout the year.
Excess energy collected during the warmer months will be stored underneath the house in an Earth Energy Bank (EEB) and pumped back to heat the home in winter. The developers believe the energy stored in the EEB will only be required for about 10 weeks each year, depending on the weather.
Nevertheless, the house is connected to the main electricity network as a back-up.
"The design and construction, down to the materials, were used specifically for their low carbon footprint," said Michael Goddard, director of Caplin Homes.
"We want to prove that Government targets are achievable and genuine zero-carbon homes are a viable investment for UK house builders.”
The company said that despite the prototype being designed as a large family home, houses of all possible size will follow soon. The response among the public the prototype has elicited is certainly promising, the company said.
"It has only just gone on the market and we've had incredible interest from people looking to buy the house but also from people looking to build their own,” said Estate agent Anthony Fox, of Country Properties, in Kibworth, who are selling the property.
"People are very keen to reduce their carbon footprint and they're fascinated by the technology and the prospect of their home being self-sustaining and self-sufficient."
Over the last 12 months, the performance of the solar house will be under scrutiny of a De Montfort University MSc student.
"So far the calculations suggest that the Solar House will perform well, so we're looking forward to starting our analyses once the house is occupied. We're very proud to have been asked to join the project and act as an independent assessor of its zero-carbon status,” said Dr Andrew Wright, of De Montfort University's Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development, who will oversee the project.
"The house building industry has to move towards more energy efficient living if it is to meet government targets and the Solar House project could be a landmark stage in that process," he concluded.