If your climate change-denying, Trump-supporting neighbor tries to tell you it's too expensive to own a green home, show them this story. Colin Usher, who is the director of UK-based John McCall Architects, wanted to design a simple home with a gentle environmental impact and a reasonable price tag. His wife's main request was for a lot of light and plenty of room to hang her art. Designed for the Wirral with German Passivhaus principles as a baseline, the little white house is exceptionally-well insulated and oriented for optimum solar gain. Now, two years down the road, its energy efficiency has far exceeded even the most ambitious expectations.
While the West Kirby home was expected to be inexpensive to run, it is performing four times better than a standard Passivhaus residence, according to the architects. They write, “The house has now been occupied for 2 years and the energy cost for heating, lighting, hot water and cooking was less than £15 per year for this period.”
Using today’s currency conversion rate, that translates to just over $22 per year, or less than $2 a month.
A simple masonry and concrete structure with triple glazed windows, passive orientation and an air source heat pump, the home has a rooftop solar array that almost completely offsets its annual energy consumption of 3453 kWhrs with 3338 kWhrs of clean energy. And this is in the UK, which is not known for its endless days of blazing sunshine.
“This uncomplicated building uses a combination of tried and tested construction techniques along with some modern heating and ventilation technology to give very good performance and exceptionally low running costs,” the architects write on their website.
“It is a lovely house to live in with high ceilings and comfortable spaces. It was not expensive to construct.”
It cost the equivalent of $358,000 to build the West Kirby home, which is a lot of money for a recent college graduate with crippling loans but well within the price range of a contemporary home with exorbitant utility rates. And – as solar panels grow ever cheaper – prices for green homes like this will only become more reasonable as time goes on, which could contribute to the world’s recent pledge to reduce carbon emissions to a trickle.