Lodge 11 is an Eco House, in fact nearly PassiveHouse standard, which means the high level of insulation does not allow heat or cold to transfer easily.
There is no boiler, no radiators, no underfloor heating. There is a huge concrete base with a layer of acts as a massive radiator.
The house stays warm in Winter and cool in Summer. It’s quite magical and simple in how it works.
The walls are made of hollow polystyrene blocks, filled with concrete. All the inside walls are clad in a membrane, before the plaster work goes on, with even more rock wool insulation on top for both thermal and sound insulation.
It is very quiet inside as there are no air exits; keyholes in doors do not go all the way through from one side to another, no letterbox, no vent for tumble dryer; as these things would allow the air to escape.
All the windows, doors, glass sliding door and roof lights are triple glazed too. Sometimes you get condensation on the outside. This is normal.
How does it work?
Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery systems continuously extract moist, stale and polluted air from the ‘wet’ rooms of a property such as bathrooms, utility rooms and kitchens. This air is passed over a heat exchange cell which recovers and retains the heat that would otherwise be lost from the extracted air. It takes heat from our bodies too and our pets’ bodies.
This heat is then transferred to incoming fresh, filtered air that the unit is resupplying back into habitable rooms such as bedrooms and living rooms, resulting in minimal heat losses and a more comfortable indoor environment.
Our unit has an additional ComfortCool option, which means in summer it cools the inside temperature to 10 degrees below the outside. Air circulation is around 10 changes a day.
To operate at efficiently, it is best to keep windows shut in summer because it keeps the hot air out and in winter because it keeps the heat in. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a window open – but try not to have windows open front and back at the same time. If you do this in winter, all the warm air escapes and may take some time to get back up to heat again. Having windows open front and back in summer just lets hot air in, which then takes time for the ComfortCool to cool down again. It is just a different way of living.
In summer it is fine to have the large sliding door open as it is on the north side of the house and doesn’t get hot until the evening.
There is nothing to adjust. It just works. What ever you do, do not adjust any of the ceiling vents. The out flow (concave) and in flow (convex) vents are set up for optimum air flow. All door have a gap at the bottom too so air is always moving around.
Power from the Sun
There are 3kW solar panels on both sides of the roof, to make as much use as possible of the sun as the ridge of the house is North-South.
If you are interested, you can see this unit in the Utility Room:
The Green bar shows what we are shipping back to the grid that they pay us for.
The Yellow bar shows what the Solar panels are generating.
The Red bar shows what the house is using.
Drinking and Bath/Shower Water
The area has some of the highest limescale in the country. All taps in the house go through a water softener (you won’t need much soap in the shower). On the kitchen tap, there is an additional filtered side lever for drinking use. We even use this water through a jug filter when filling the kettle as the water is so hard.
There is a water softener in the Utility Room which has enough tablets in for about a week.
There is no hot water tank, the water is heated by solar panels when there is enough sun, or by the grid when no sun. The hot water is generated by two SunAmp units in the Utility Room
There should easily be enough hot water for everyone to take showers, even at the same time! Having a bath will take a lot of the hot water, but you could have a bath in the evening and the water will be heated for showers in the morning.
Wiltshire is a bit poor on recycling. No food waste is collected. We have to take our black bin waste to the Golf Club car park bins (this includes food waste). Plastic bottles, cans and cardboard also go the car park bins. They do not recycle plastic bags yet, or cartons. Glass is meant to go in large box and taken to car park on a certain day, but we never do this as we are generally not around to bring the bin back to the lodge and it can’t be left in the car park. Instead, we either bring glass home, or recycle it at Sainsbury’s in Wootton Bassett.
Washing machine is not high tech! Most programmes seem to take forever. Washing powder/conditioner in eye level cupboard nearest machine.
We have found that a not too long way is as follows:
– selector knob turned to 3 o’clock position
– Option button on ‘super quick’
Tumble dryer is a condenser dryer; there is a drawer (top left) to pull out after each use and empty the water that has been extracted.
There is a hanging rack in the utility room and washing line, with pegs, on the upstair balcony.
The dishwasher is brand new but has idiosyncrasies. You have to press the power button then wait. The LEDs should go on after a while and you can choose which cycle. Use ECO if you can and close the door. A few seconds later it should start working. It takes ages though. There have been so many dishwasher fires so we never set it if we are going out.
Don’t leave anything on the induction hob. There are two sets of pans that work on it.
Hot pans and roasting pans are Ok to put straight on the laminate surface of the kitchen island but not on the light grey surface either side of the hob and sink.
We leave the wine fridge off while we are not there so please switch it on when you arrive and off when you depart. The switch is just behind the fridge below the red wine rack.
We will be getting proper ones, but in the meantime, we have temporary pieces of fabric on poles!
When the sun is currently this hot, the utility room will get very hot in the morning. This then makes the MVHR work harder to cool air down, so we have one of our temporary blinds over the window and door. Once the sun has gone round you can remove the blind if you want to. This heat through the window is called ‘solar gain’ and is really helpful in winter as the heat is then transported around the house. We have a similar temporary blind in the main living area. As the sun comes round, it is not so much to keep the heat out, but if you are trying to watch TV, it is blinding!
The same key operates all doors. We leave a key at all times in the inside lock on all doors. Lift the handle up and then turn key – both doors are very stiff – the seals around the doors, again, designed to keep air out!
Neighbours at Lodge 10 are Roger and Hilary. Roger is the mastermind behind the way the houses were built as they built one before in Durham. He is the first port of call if you think something isn’t working. He has a key.