British Gas and BRE take energy efficiency to the next level

British Gas are partnering with BRE, a research-based consultancy in a move to take energy efficiency in UK homes to the next level.

BRE provide advice for the built environment sector and associated industries, making the partnership with British Gas natural for a project of this kind.

The project

Originally called Integer House, The Smart Home provides a platform to showcase energy efficiency in the 21st century.

The project looks at a number of issues that modern homes face and aims to improve the quality of UK housing with innovative products, materials and technology.

Technologies in 1998

Built 16 years ago and featured on the BBC as the ‘House of the Future’, the three-bedroom property was originally equipped with a host of energy-efficient features and functions including:

• Ground source heat pump
• Glass fronted to take advantage of the south facing location
• Downstairs bedrooms – heat rises so the ground floor stayed cooler
• Self filling bath – you could use a landline to call the house and remotely fill the bathtub
• Intelligent lighting – turned off if no movement, and allowed a pathway to be lit at night when walking to the bathroom, for example

2013 retrofit

The timber-frame south-facing house has undergone an extensive retrofit, incorporating the latest innovations in design,WideShotFromKitchen6053sml.jpg intelligence and environmental performance. The energy-saving solutions include:

• Solar PV panels – would provide 50% of electricity to a fully lived in version of the house
• Solar thermal heating to generate hot water
• Phase change material – thin panels of paraffin wax, which sit behind the plasterboard on the south facing wall. As the room warms up  the panels absorb the warmth and melt the paraffin. Then at night, the paraffin cools, and the heat is passed into the house or purge ventilated. It helps keep a more consistent temperature over the day
• Wi-Fi connection plugs which allow appliances to be turned on or off via a smartphone
• Double glazed windows with recycled content
• Commercial LED lights

The innovative refurbishment has made the house 50% more energy efficient and halved its carbon emissions, upgrading it from an E to an A/B EPC rating.

Victorian Terrace

British Gas has previously refurbished another property called Victorian Terrace, proving that a very old building can be brought up to date, and made efficient.

British Gas also looked at fabric heat loss through walls, windows, the floor and roof, and also addressed the issues of heating and control systems, and lighting. A number of features were implemented including:

• Insulated walls and floor
• Commercial LED lights
• Air source heat pump, which can also be used for cooling
• Triple glazed windows fitted

The aim was to make the building as airtight as possible while complying with regulations. The Victorian Terrace is rated at 2.9 air changes per hour, meaning as little heat escapes as possible.

The partnership between British Gas and BRE demonstrates the energy savings that can be made through investing in smart technology in our buildings.

Source: BRE,

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