The University of Salford’s cutting-edge Energy House 2.0 will allow researchers and technology developers to test energy use in houses built inside two giant weather-controlled chambers.

The £16 million facility will be able to create snow, rain, wind and sun via a state-of-the-art heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Temperatures can be set as low as -20°C and as high as 40°C, meaning environmental conditions experienced by 95 per cent of the world’s population can be replicated.

Four furnished houses will sit within the chambers, each fitted with smart energy technology including smart meters, in-home displays and ‘vehicle-to-grid’ (V2G) technology that will connect with electric cars.

Low carbon innovation

The purpose of the facility is to shape the homes of the future and give insights on how insulation materials, smart energy products and batteries respond to different conditions. It builds on the University of Salford’s first Energy House, which was built in 2011.

Professor William Swan, director of energy house laboratories at the University of Salford explained: “Salford has built a fantastic capability in researching energy efficiency at the whole building level. Controlled conditions mean we can repeat experiments in a way that cannot be done outside.

“We can cut study times from years to a matter of weeks. This type of capability allows us to support low carbon innovation in a way that is not possible elsewhere.”

‘Unique in the UK’

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has been a strong advocate of the work undertaken by the Energy House team.

“A key part of delivering Greater Manchester’s target to be carbon neutral by 2038 is in reducing emissions from our homes,” he commented. “We need our buildings to become more energy efficient and use renewable energy more effectively, and Energy House 2.0 will help us define how to achieve this. The facilities on offer are unique in the UK and will help businesses to test new equipment and mechanisms to reduce carbon emissions.

“[It] will not only help to secure a greener Greater Manchester but will put our city region on the map as an international leader in improving the energy efficiency of our homes and buildings.”

The team at University of Salford, have worked with 25 companies and tested 22 energy saving products in their labs, delivering annual CO2 emissions savings of 2,595,970kg. This work has led to business revenues of £2,226,970, and the improvement of 1,850 homes across Greater Manchester.

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