27/08/2008

Ulster's Leading Role In Cutting Household Carbon Footprint

The University of Ulster (UU) is taking a pivotal role in a £2 million project studying the acceptability of measures which would enable householders to reduce their carbon footprint and energy bills.

UU is one of six universities working together on the four-year project, which is supported by major energy utility E.ON and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The project, entitled 'Consumer-Appealing Low Energy Technologies for Building Retrofitting (CALEBRE)' sees Ulster investigating the impact of heating pumps and advanced glazing.

Professor Neil Hewitt, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Technologies at Ulster, said: "We will be examining how heating pumps and advanced glazing could improve the efficiency of the domestic heating system and could reduce heat loss from the building. We will also be looking at the impacts on thermal comfort, running costs and householder satisfaction."

The Ulster team consists of Professor Hewitt - heat pumps, Dr Trevor Hyde - advanced glazing and Dr Philip Griffiths - thermal comfort. All are internationally recognised experts in their particular fields.

Professor Dennis Loveday at Loughborough University leads the overall project. Laboratory-based research will look at how to adapt heat pumps and insulation systems to be more appealing to homeowners and whether issues identified can be extended to other technologies.

A 200-strong panel of consumers will also be interviewed about their attitudes to renewable, low-carbon and energy-efficiency measures while approaches will be tested in a house constructed to 1930s standards at Nottingham University.

Professor Loveday said: "It is vitally important to bring a user dimension in the sense of taking into account the degree of disturbance that house occupants will tolerate. This project is very novel as we bring householders in to inform the design and evaluate the technology used.

"Another issue is that people do not always understand what technology is available and how to put them together in one package. If we can provide a one-stop shop and find the best combination of technology to reduce and decarbonise a home, we can offer guidance and help the development of the policy."

The other universities involved in the study are Warwick, Herriot-Watt in Edinburgh and Oxford.

(JM)

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