With rising fuel costs and Arctic weather conditions this winter, the challenge of burning less fuel and keeping our homes warm has been uppermost in the minds of all homeowners. Thicker loft insulation and double-glazing are a must for existing houses but if you are building a new home, there are other steps which you can take to make dramatic savings on energy costs.
“Talking to an architect who specialises in low energy technology is a good starting point for the would-be house builder,” says Portadown-based architect Paul McAlister. “It costs about 10% more to build a lower energy house but this leads to an amazing 80% reduction in heating costs during the lifetime of the property which is both a huge financial and environmental saving.
“And there’s more money to be saved. Government grants are also available, such as those from Land & Property Services which offer free rates for five years to the occupier of a new zero carbon home and two years to the occupier of a new low carbon home.”
Paul has been advising clients on low energy housing solutions since 2006 and he has recently been certified as Northern Ireland’s first “Passive House Designer”. This is the worldwide gold standard in energy efficient house design.
“Since the sub-zero temperatures in December, we have talked to an increasing number of clients who want a low energy home as their number one priority. By including features such as triple-glazed windows and super insulating, it’s definitely possible to make long-term savings to fuel costs. It’s estimated that it costs £2,600 to heat a traditional house each year but by including the “Passive House” low energy features, fuel costs can drop to as little as £220 per annum.”
Loughgall businessman Fearghal McNeice is currently building a low energy house near the National Trust’s Ardress House.
“Employing the services and expertise of a professional within the architectural energy industry, such as Paul McAlister Architects, has been very beneficial,” commented Fearghal. “We are looking forward to much lower heating costs and the two year rates’ rebate was a very welcome added bonus!”
The message is clear. Think low energy as you plan your dream home and you can save pounds on your fuel bills in the future.
Author Paul McAlister