Welsh social homes create positive energy – literally

The Welsh Government has committed to doubling its spending on low-carbon social housing, investing £250 million by 2022 to build 20,000 green homes.

 

Some of the new social homes will go beyond net-zero, producing extra energy that can be pumped back into the grid.

Wales now has 14 “positive energy” social housing developments that feature the newest innovations in green energy, from solar-panelled roofs that feed a Tesla battery system to exhaust air heat pumps with mechanical ventilation.

The first residents moved in in January 2020, and in March they received their first negative energy bill, meaning the extra energy their homes generated had been fed back into the Welsh grid.

Allyn King, who recently moved into one of the homes at Rhiw Cefn Gwlad with his wife Anne-Marie and three children, says before the move the family was spending £250 a month on gas and electricity. Their energy bill is now just £19.33, and they’ve built up over £250 worth of credit over the summer to spend on heating during the winter.

Despite the vagaries of the Welsh climate, King says the battery storing solar power from the roof has been a great help, and he even has an app on his phone that enables him to control the heating and hot water remotely so he can keep saving energy while away from home.

“It’s allowed us to spend more on healthy, fresh food and to save for school uniforms and special occasions,” he says.

Climate Change Minister Julie James said the new plan goes beyond Welsh housing need estimates and aims to address the growing second homes crisis in Wales as well as homelessness and the climate emergency: “We are ensuring the decisions we make today are the right ones for our future generations.”