The Lightbulb Moment

Did you ever have a really good idea about how to save money?  Paul McAlister (Passive House Architect), Richard Bell (Solmatix Renewables) and Eamonn Connolly (SIPFIT ltd) are three local house experts who have had their lightbulb moment and have discovered the secret of building a house which reduces heating costs by 80%.  They shared their knowledge with 85 delegates last Thursday at a Passive House seminar in Belfast’s Ramada Hotel.

left to right - Eamonn Connolly, Paul McAlister, Richard Bell

“The Passive House is the fastest growing energy performance standard in the world with over 30,000 Passive House buildings built to date.  It’s a very simple approach and it is based on excellent thermal performance, exceptional airtightness and mechanical ventilation,” explains Portadown architect Paul McAlister, one of the keynote speakers at the seminar.

“It’s a lovely house to live in.  In winter, there is a comfortable indoor climate with fresh air, less dust and no condensation problems – that’s definitely good news for any allergy sufferers.  The bank balance also benefits as heating costs are reduced by a staggering 80%.  Government grants are available too, 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.”

Almost 400 new homes were started in Northern Ireland between January and March 2011 according to the National House Builders Federation.  An increasing number of new homes are being designed with some Passive House features and with the change in building regulations this will become more popular.

Using the right building components is key in designing a Passive House.  “By including features such as triple-glazed windows and super insulation, it’s possible to make significant long-term savings in 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,” continues Eamonn Connolly from Warrenpoint’s SIPFIT Ltd who specialise in pre-fabricated insulated wall panels.

Renewal energy is the icing on the cake of a Passive House.  Local company Solmatix Renewables are very experienced in this area and their owner Richard Bell is very passionate that this is a must-do for all new home owners.

“Fuel costs rocketed last winter and we have to look at new ways to heat homes in Northern Ireland.  An air source heat pump is a renewable low cost alternative to a traditional oil boiler.  Add to that some solar panels and significant extra savings can be made to household fuel costs,” explains Richard.

So now is the time to have your lightbulb moment.  “Think Passive House” as you plan your dream home so that you can switch on to savings in your bank balance, better health and lower CO2 emissions.