House to undergo energy tests at Salford Uni

Michael Hunt

A terraced house is being built inside a three-storey sealed testing chamber at the University of Salford as part of a study on domestic energy consumption.

In addition, the house will also be fully furnished and fitted with fully functioning water, gas and electricity supplies.

Once completed next spring, the house, designed to a style similar to those found on the set of ITV's Coronation Street or from the 1920s, will be subject to advanced energy experiments.

The testing chamber will feature a climate system which will generate a range of rain, wind and solar conditions.

The university is carrying out the test to devise ways to improve its efficiency. As well as testing new types of insulation, double glazing and low-energy appliances, University of Salford's psychologists, health experts and sociologists, working alongside designers, engineers and scientists, will also be devising sustainable solutions.

For instance, University of Salford is exploring if the use of certain colours and wall-coverings affect how people perceive temperature, and whether smart meters showing the real-time cost of energy use in the house changes consumer behaviour and if, in the future, a games console like Nintendo's Wii could be powered by physical energy generated by the user.

University of Salford said the tests could be a solution to make the UK's ageing housing stock more sustainable.

Experts said houses constructed prior to 1920, the least efficient properties, currently make up 15% of UK homes but actually account for 23% of carbon dioxide emissions.

More than two million houses similar to the one being tested at the university currently exist within the country, according to the university.

Prof Steve Donnelly, dean of the Faculty of Science, Engineering and 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 unique cross-discipline nature of The Energy Hub also means that our academics, experts and specialists from a range of fields can access and interpret the data, and work together to find innovative solutions."

The Energy House is the centre-piece of the university's new Energy Hub, which is a research centre drawing on the expertise of over 25 academics from 13 departments, and a centre of excellence for energy research in the UK. Its findings and facilities will be utilised by academics, students, government and business.

The Energy House is due to be completed by February 2011.

Your Comments

Read our comments policy here