DailyMail UK: Four-bedroom detached house costs just £15 a year to run

Colin Usher designed the house in West Kirby, Wirral, to keep the bills as low as possible for himself and his wife, Jenny.

Amazingly, the pair now pay less than the price of an average takeaway for their year’s supply of energy for heating, lighting, cooking and hot water.

The house is designed to maintain an even temperature year round by using insulated concrete and a hi-tech heat pump that takes in heat from the outside air and uses it to warm the house. Solar panels keep the electricity bills to a minimum.

The cost of the house is broken down as follows: The original property was worth £192,500, it cost £6,000 to demolish it, disconnect services and set up others, £240,000 to construct it and external works cost £2,000, bringing the total to £440,500.

 

THE HEAT OF THE MATTER: WHY COLIN USHER’S HOME IS SO EFFICIENT

Mr Usher told MailOnline that he was ‘very proud of the technical aspects of the house’, which he says is more or less hermetically sealed, but uses pumps and a clever design to keep fresh air circulating. ‘All the risks we took in making this work, have paid off,’ he added.

This graphic shows some of the features that Mr Usher used to ensure his bills are rock bottom
Here are the key features that ensure he never has to pay more than £15 a year to run it.

  • It’s built of concrete to retain heat. The house only loses one degree of heat per day when the heating is off
  • There’s an air-to-water heat pump for hot water
  • Hot water from air-to-water pump heats floor
  • No heating to upper floor
  • Exceptional insulation throughout
  • Insulation wraps round in front of each of the window and door frames
  • Triple glazing
  • Ventilation system sucks warm moist air out of bathrooms, utility room and kitchen – blows fresh air into all the living spaces
  • A heat exchanger warms incoming air
  • The ground floor rooms are tall so warm air rises to warm floors above
  • South facing solar panels generate 3,338kW hours/year
  • This electricity is fed back to the house to run appliances, the heating and hot water production

Mr Usher explains in this diagram the major heat-loss issues that he had to tackle while designing the house 
Mr Usher said: ‘I suppose you could say that it’s what I’ve been working on for my whole career.

‘I’ve always had a huge interest in energy efficiency and because I was building it for myself and my wife, rather than a client, it gave me the chance to test out a few theories I had, which thankfully paid off.

‘It’s not been done at the expense of comfort – it has high-end finishes and it’s got lovely high ceilings and big rooms. Everyone that visits says it’s lovely and warm.

‘It is very comfortable to live in and its appearance is not incongruous with surrounding houses.

‘It dispels the myth that an eco-driven home needs to be expensive and radically different in appearance.’

Mr Usher added: ‘A recent valuation of the house shows that it is worth what it cost to buy the land, demolish the previous property and build the new house. However if one takes into account the £2,500 per year saving on energy costs and the fact that there will be no significant repairs and maintenance required over the next 15 to 20 years, this can be seen as a very sound investment, along with being a comfortable and desirable place to live.’

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