New eco-homes that cost 41p a month to heat





Residents in new eco homes built by Eastleigh based housing provider Radian are paying as little as 41p a month to heat their homes.

Radian’s Stoneham Green was the first ever development in the earea to achieve the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6 and one of the first nationally to include technologies that specifically support residents to change how they use energy. This achievement has earnt the scheme several Development of the Year awards and Radian many plaudits, including being named as Provider of the Year at the Affordable Home Ownership awards and most recently, a bronze award at the prestigious Green Apple Awards 2012, presented at the House of Commons.

It is, however, the impact of these eco-technologies on the residents’ lives, that the Radian team is most interested in; and it is here that Stoneham Green is really delivering, with families paying as little as  41 pence to heat a three-bedroom, three storey house for a full month.

Ali Lomax lives with his wife, Jo, three young daughters and baby son in one of the new three-bedroomed homes in Stoneham Green. Whilst his family never used to recycle or worry about wasting water or energy before moving in, Ali confesses that the amount of thought and design detail that has gone into these homes, means that it is easy to maintain a sustainable lifestyle.

“The recycling bin is right outside the front door and the compost is just there in the garden.” Says Ali, “I try to be as lazy as possible, but they’ve made sustainable living so easy, it’s more effort to not do it.”

Whilst the homes have the highest levels of insulation and air tightness, Mechanical Heat and Ventilation systems to ensure that the temperature throughout the house is regulated, photovoltaic panels to generate electricity and solar panels to feed the communal biomass boiler; it is the advanced Building Energy Management System (BEMS) interactive energy dashboard that has had most effect on the Lomax family’s behaviour and cutting their energy usage.

The BEMS interactive energy dashboard is a touchsceen installed in the hallway, where residents can monitor and organise their energy output, plot proposed savings, find the bus timetable and even contact Radian directly. This system has been developed to support and encourage residents to become more aware of their energy usage.

BEMS Energy dashboard

Ali admits that it does work:

“I have a problem; because I can see what we are spending on screen, I’ve become a bit of a scrooge and am always telling the girls to turn off lights.”

Clearly enthused, he happily confesses that he now holds a competition with himself to keep the costs down to the minimum, seeking to ensure each bill is cheaper than the preceding one. The girls have certainly become aware of their eco-obligations and it is clear that they have now inherited their dad’s passion for not wasting energy.

On top of the 41p monthly heating bill last month, the family paid £2.95 for the hot water they used via the communal biomass boiler and an electricity bill of just £25. This results in a yearly saving of £500, when compared to what the family used to pay for heat and electricity in their old two-bedroomed flat.

However, it is not just the financial savings that these houses offer their residents. Another much appreciated side effect of the high levels of insulation is that of soundproofing. In their old flat, Ali and Jo could hear everything that went on in neighbours’ flats and had received complaints about their girls playing in the hallway, due to the thin walls and sound transfer through the floors and ceiling.

“It’s a huge weight off our shoulders that the kids can run around and sing and play to their hearts’ content, without us having to constantly tell them off for, well, just being little girls. In the old flat, we had to wake up when they woke up, to keep them as quiet as possible and not disturb the neighbours at 5am. There are three energetic little boys next door and we have never heard them once.”

Radian’s varied schemes of award-winning homes across the South of England are now proving their worth, by ensuring that residents, like Ali, are able to continue to afford to live and raise their families in a warm, comfortable home.

“I sometimes sit in the garden, which we have never had before, and think how lucky we are. We’d have been happy with any three-bedroomed terraced house; this is like being in a different world. I’d be happy if we never moved again.”