Snigger

They were described as the ‘homes of the future’, with an eco-friendly design that would keep bills low.

The 45 super-insulated houses, built with £5.6million of public money, were even held up as a ‘model’ of environmentally-friendly construction.

But 18 months after the social housing complex in Bradford was completed, residents have complained of bills that are double what is normal and faulty equipment that was supposed to save them money.

31 comments on “Snigger

  1. Having backup equipment come on when the primary is not on – and the backup equipment being full price stuff (water and heat) is just asking for trouble.

    Maybe the residents don’t want heating to be on 24/7. Maybe they don’t want to fill the water tank an hour before rain is expected. No choice on the backup it seems.

  2. There seems to be one solar panel per house, with plenty of spare roof space. That’s not going to make much of a dent in the bills.

  3. I agree with Paul.
    A decade ago BP, making a PR gesture, built a service station to be energy-efficient and *the whole* of its roof was composed of solar panels.

  4. Are those not solar water heaters (look like black tubes not flat sheets), so 1 panel is quite normal, they provide hot water not electricity.

    What’s the betting that the builders just built it utterly shit, heat recovery systems only work if the house is built airtight, if not then they significantly reduce energy efficiency, most builders think airtight means slapping around a load of mastic at the end of the build.

  5. “What’s the betting that the builders just built it utterly shit”: as a civil engineer friend of mine said “However scientifically we design it, it’s Paddy who builds it”.

  6. This usually means that:

    a – Someone has been sold/installed an inappropriate technology – eg heat pump with too low a rating, and teh expensive “top up” is being used too much.

    b – The residents haven’t learnt how to use it eg forever opening windows on a low leakage house with a whole house vent system.

  7. If you look at the photo of the bill you see the story is not quite as advertised. The monthly electicity usage adds up to £217 a quarter for a house where gas is not used for heating. Which sounds pretty good.

    The bill is only big because he hasn’t paid previous quarters. All green things are over claimed for and I am as suspicious of builders as the next man. But there doesn’t seem to be enough real information in the article.

  8. Incidentally, back when they spoke English, there was an old minicab driver’s joke. You could always tell when the household was on benefits. They could never hear the toot over the noise of the TV, so when you crunched up the path through the snow & rung the bell, the bloke would answer the door in his vest & the blast of heat escaping singe your eyebrows. There’s a measure of truth behind this. If you ever see the energy bills for residents of ‘social housing’, they’re often much higher than would be expected with private sector. ??? One of life’s inexplicable little mysteries.

  9. @ fake
    Firstly, the article states that they ” are equipped with solar panels to provide electricity”, secondly
    I’ve got two panels for my solar water heating and I’m in the milder, sunnier south [yes, it is sunnier because no factories = no pollution blocking sunlight]; thirdly, the picture shows some roofs with no panels at all; fourthly, solar panels should be south-facing and the photographs show some panels at right-angles to others.
    You can’t blame the builder for this – it is down to the architect employed by the social housing provider.

  10. @john77, you are probably right, I just assumed the usual tabloid “fact checking”.

    @bloke in spain

    “Er…. builders aren’t allowed to build buildings airtight. All rooms must be permanently ventilated.”

    Airtight is a silly term, what it really means in this context is less than 1-2 air changes an hour for such ventilation systems to work.

    Most builders still struggle to get it down to 10 air changes an hour, because they are just incompetent.

  11. With all respect, Mr Fake, this is new build not refurb. With all the various requirements on draughtproofing of windows, external doors etc, don’t be too quick to blame the builders. The installations arrive on site pre assembled & pretty well ready to sling into the relevant apertures, these days. The architect design should preclude any gaps around where they meet the masonry. Doesn’t actually leave much room for incompetence but if there was any, it shouldn’t pass the building inspection.

    This amuses:
    ““However scientifically we design it, it’s Paddy who builds it”.

    Wish I’d got paid architects’ rates for the work needed to translate what appears on architects plans into something someone could conceivably live in.

  12. @Bloke in Spain

    My company does airtightness and various other building testing.

    Building inspectors don’t know anything about such issues, if the building is standing up, that’s all they care about.

    Far to many sites we tests suffer from piss poor workmanship in regards to airtightness, as said they sometimes fail to get it to even 10 air changes an hour, most vent/heat recovery systems require about 2 air changes an hour or less to work efficiently.

    Never underestimate the British builders ability to fuck things up.

  13. BiS, on the one occasion I can recall entering a council home, I was indeed struck by the warmth therein.

    But not surprised, because you see,I was accompanying home a young woman from, er, another country, who had fallen outside my flat and mashed up her face. Although she was in some distress, understandably enough, she explained to me, en route to the aforementioned toasty abode, that the taxi driver she’d sent out to pick up a couple of bottles of wine for her, had not returned. Hence the journey past the Lud residence or bedsit to the nearest offy.

  14. Indeed a tale of much fascination, Mr Lud. One could understand even a member of the legal profession needing to divest themselves of some articles of clothing confronted by such a furnace like environment.
    Not guilty of the implied offence but one should wonder why the occupant of a council property is despatching cab drivers on shopping expeditions to nearby off-licenses. However, one doesn’t, because the regularity such tenants send cabs in search of take-aways, booze, packages containing substances drivers would rather not have found in their possession, hookers (return of) , collect videos, assorted children & livestock & sundry other tasks is proverbial. Wonder there’s time left to drive them the 200 yards home from the pub.

    Anyone who has not followed the career for even the briefest interlude has missed a fascinating window on the human condition.

  15. bloke in spain // Feb 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Its not just people on benefits – the US military has a huge problem with the same sort of thing within its barracks and on-base housing. They’re “solving” the problem through more regulations and by hiring staff to go around and check that the homes keep their windows closed, aren’t running the AC too early in the year.

  16. Its not just people on benefits – the US military has a huge problem with the same sort of thing within its barracks and on-base housing.

    This happens in Russia too, and I suspect the reason is the same for all: they are not paying the full price of their heating bill. I live in company provided accommodation, and you can guess how much I give a shit about how much I use the air conditioner.

  17. Taking & driving away alcoholic beverages without the permission of the owner, Mr Lud. Not guilty on this very particular occasion.

    @21 Actually, I was thinking more of inappropriate choices discussed on a recent thread. Always surprises what people with supposedly little money chose to spend it on.

  18. @fake 16
    If you’re talking new build domestic, it’d be genuinely interesting to know if you’ve identified any recurrent problem areas. Might have to solve same someday.
    Taking median target requirements for infiltration added to passive ventilation requirements seems to be more than that 2 air changes an hour maximum you’re looking for. That’s working on a typical 3 bed detached but arguably a bit less on a semi with one common wall, rated presumably zero for infiltration. Question being, of course, are your requirements real world attainable?

    All this buggering around with strange numbers does have a bearing on the OT. Energy efficiency with housing does have the problem, it’s very easy to reduce heat loss with the first measure taken, d/g, loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, whatever. It gets progressively more difficult & expensive as the remaining loss you’re trying to reduce gets smaller. Mr Fake’s talking heat recovery. Can see that making sense where building’s are industrial or office, where ingress/egress can be managed & the air volumes are large. But the amount one would recover in a domestic situation could be negated by the lady of the house leaving the door open whilst she puts out the washing. So how would one justify the expense of installation/running costs?
    Can see how you can spend a great deal on building an energy efficient house. But it’s peeps living in it. No telling their response to cheaper hot water isn’t longer showers.

  19. Can’t speak for you, BiS, and English law doesn’t require me to admit a thing, ahem, but this young woman had the readies for the booze and the taxi driver. And, the taxi driver having failed to return, more readies for replacement booze.

  20. “If you’re talking new build domestic, it’d be genuinely interesting to know if you’ve identified any recurrent problem areas. Might have to solve same someday.”

    It’s always the same stuff, poorly fitted windows and doors (I really cringe at how they can get such basic stuff wrong), various drilling’s for pipes and such never properly sealed, light fittings poorly fitted, trying to tape membranes when they are still wet (so the seal fails).

    I don’t think there is a technical solution, it just generally shoddy workmanship, it’s all easily fixable, but only if someone bothers to find out if there is a problem to fix.

    I mean, we are talking of people here that drill into the flanges of joists, right where it says in big black ink “DO NOT DRILL HERE”.

    Too many hopeless idiots, and to many site managers with a culture of “stick some plaster over it, no one will know”.

  21. john77

    ……A decade ago BP, making a PR gesture, built a service station to be energy-efficient and *the whole* of its roof was composed of solar panels…….

    And less than half of its need for electricity was provided by the solar panels.

  22. Thanx Mr Fake. Yeah, nothing there heads haven’t been banged for. Why we did pre-handover checks.

  23. Bis and Fake you remind me of a Grand Designs TV program a few years ago about a “passiv-haus”. It was a large construction but basically designed for , I think, 4 people. No bookshelves. No pictures. i would not want to spend more than about 2 minutes in the company of the people who built it. But the premise was probably less than 2 air changes per hour for the entire house. It struck me as strange at the time but it was being subjected to rigorous engineering team tests. I remember thinking that the additional build costs would never be recouped through heating and lighting efficiency. Does this ring any bells?

  24. Can’t say the particular programme sounds a carillon, tantalum or otherwise, but it’d be one of a long line. There’s a documentary from the late 40s called the ‘Electric House’ or somesuch that’s great fun. Whole thing seems to be made of sheet steel. Presumably, the first wiring fault cremates the occupants. Just sweep out the whitened ashes & move in the new lucky home owners. Any one whose experienced Crittall steel framed windows streaming with condensation & permanently rusted solidly unopenable will get the drift.
    Houses have been evolving happily for a few tens of millenia & will continue to do so. Periodically, some innovation comes along & gets incorporated where it’s appropriate. But they’re not like planes or cars. They’re something the occupants are intimately entwined with. Different needs in different locations for different purposes. Set of questions that are constantly asked & answered. There’s no stunning design some architect or technologist is going to come up with will fit all of them.

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