Energy House

Energy House Laboratories. Shaping the future of energy.

Contact Details

The way UK energy is supplied and consumed is changing fast. Consumers and small businesses will soon be able to generate, store, share, buy and sell their energy as the government encourages the transition to a greener economy.

Through commercial and grant funded research, Energy House Laboratories helps businesses understand how effective their products and services are in lowering consumers’ carbon footprint and reducing energy bills.

Professor Will Swan and Dr. Richard Fitton, MRICS are the Energy House Laboratories management team.

Research facilities

Salford Energy House

The Energy House is a unique research and testing laboratory and comprises an early 20th century two-bedroom terraced house within an environmental chamber allowing an accurate and rapid assessment of energy efficient retro fit technologies.

It is a traditional construction; solid brick walls, suspended timber floors and single glazed windows with a conventional ‘wet’ heating system fired by a gas boiler. The environmental chamber can be used to simulate a wide variety of weather conditions with a temperature range from -12°C to +30°C. The chamber is also equipped with rigs to simulate wind, rain, snow and incident solar radiation.

Throughout the chamber and the house there are over 200 monitoring points with real time data collection of parameters such as temperature, humidity, heat flux, electricity and gas consumption.

The facility underpins a range of research topics including:

  • Building physics/performance
  • Sensors/data collection
  • Data analysis and visualisation
  • Human factors
  • Smart meters and connected homes

ENERGY HOUSE EXPERTISE

Energy House explore issues of energy consumption in buildings. We use data from large scale field trials and building performance tests to construct accurate models and simulations of buildings and data analytics to look at large data sets of building and energy performance. Our team works with partners across a range of commercial and grant funded projects, providing a comprehensive offer of energy and buildings expertise.

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Thermal Measurement Laboratory

The Thermal Measurement Laboratory at the University of Salford has been providing a test research and development service to the insulation and construction industry for over 40 years. The Laboratory provides accurate and verifiable measurements of insulation performance of component building materials which is essential for the realistic evaluation of carbon savings in the enormous areas of exposed elements in the built environment.

Measurement credibility of the Laboratory is underpinned by the rigour of accreditation (UKAS Testing laboratory No. 1660, Notified laboratory No. 1145 for UK approved body for UKCA and CE + UKNI marking) for measuring the thermal conductivity and resistance of materials used in buildings.

Committed to excellent professional practice, the testing and calibration activities are carried out in accordance with client requirements and strict UKAS procedures to ensure an impartial, high standard of service and confidence in the reported results.

The Laboratory operates a management system to international standards which meets both the technical competence requirements and management system requirements of ISO/IEC 17025:2017 that are necessary for the Laboratory to constantly deliver technically valid test results within its accredited scope.

THERMAL MEASUREMENT LABORATORY EXPERTISE

The Laboratory offers expertise in all aspects of thermal properties of building materials, energy conservation, insulation materials and methods to ISO 8301, ISO 8302, BS EN 12667, and BS EN 12664 and provides measurements to product standards EN 13162 – EN 13171.

Our range of services includes:

  • Accredited and accurate thermal conductivity/resistance measurements
  • Thermal calculations and consultancy
  • Thermo-physical expertise in the built environment (temperature range 0 – 80 °C)
  • Expertise in the field of heat transfer mechanisms in thermal insulation
  • Customer product research and development
  • Initial type testing under the Construction Products Regulation (for UKCA and CE + UKNI marking of thermal insulation products)
  • Traceable Thermal Measurements
  • Emissivity measurements

UKAS Accredited Thermal Conductivity / Resistance Measurements:

  • Heat Flow Meter Method (UKAS Accredited)
    • Uncertainty 2.5 to 5%, depending on sample specifications
    • Testing of insulation materials
    • Modified method to test masonry and hard materials
  • Built Environment ISO 8302, BS EN 12667, and BS EN 12664
  • ASTM standards, based on ISO BS EN methods

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Smart Meters > Smart Homes

Smart meters technology is designed to help meet carbon reduction targets, put an end to estimated bills and help people save money. The smart meter sits at the heart of an increasingly complex smart home energy system made up of any combination of energy saving appliances, energy storage devices, electric vehicle chargers, smart speakers, sensors and wearable technology.

As the UK’s first smart meter research laboratory, our researchers help our commercial customers explore how their innovative products and services can get the best out of smart meters to help UK consumers use energy more efficiently and cost-effectively.

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Energy House 2.0

Research conducted through the Energy House over the last ten years has led to important changes in the way that UK housing becomes more energy efficient. Now imagine if we could replicate the environmental conditions experienced by housing stock and consumers throughout most of the world. This would give us the opportunity to work with international industry partners and help to solve some major global challenges.

The build and commissioning of Energy House 2.0 was completed in February 2022 and is the largest test and research facility of its type. Within Energy House 2.0 there are two environmental chambers each able to accommodate two detached houses and under controlled conditions, recreate a wide variety of weather conditions with temperatures ranging between -20˚C to +40˚C and simulated wind, rain, snow and solar radiation. This unique facility will play a key role in accelerating the progress towards low carbon and net zero housing design and builds upon the success of the original Energy House Laboratory, which was opened in 2012.    

In May 2022, we will see the start of the next phase of work when in partnership with Barratt Developments, St Gobain, Bellway Homes and Muse Developments we will start building test houses inside the environmental chambers, this will be followed by testing and research programmes which will continue until spring 2023.

This project is part funded from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the Office for Students.

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Barrat Z House

Working with Energy House Labs, Barratt Developments has built a revolutionary house: the Z House – the first home in the UK that takes sustainability beyond the current Future Homes Standards.

The new Z House is based on the popular Barratt ‘Alderney’ house type and is fitted with hundreds of sensors that will record data for Energy House Labs research. It will be occupied by an academic from the University and monitored to assess its performance using the research and expertise of the University’s Energy House Laboratories.

It will be the first new home in the country built by a major housebuilder to go beyond the new Future Homes Standard by delivering a carbon reduction of 125%. Last year, Barratt announced that all of its new homes will be zero carbon by 2030 and this flagship concept house is the first step in achieving that.

It is being developed as an industry showcase home to demonstrate what is achievable, particularly from a mainstream, volume housebuilder. The new home is being built with over 40 leading industry partners from across the housebuilding, sustainability and technology sectors, all helping to broaden knowledge in zero carbon living with the lessons learnt from the construction being shared across the industry.

The new house will feature cutting edge technology such as overhead infrared panels that provide instant zero carbon heat, new air powered showers that will save families hundreds of pounds per year in water and heating bills, plaster which eliminates pollutants giving cleaner, healthier air, a fridge which keeps the right humidity resulting in 60% less food wastage, and innovative heated skirting boards delivering 10% more heat than traditional radiators whilst also saving space.

There will also be a dedicated knowledge and energy hub built into the garage space to display and showcase products and technologies used within the Z House. Here, visitors to the house will be able to monitor digital displays showing visuals of live energy use via a monitoring network which is built into the fabric of the home.

Z House will be constructed using the latest building methods incorporating Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) such as such as closed panel timber frames with highly insulated cladding, factory fitted windows and offsite panelised masonry ground floor wall panels, reducing the need for bricklayers and the time it takes to build by half. And it will include the most modern sustainable housing technology such as an air source heat pump, EV charging points, PV solar panels and battery storage.

Outside the Z House there will be a biodiversity garden featuring nests for bats and swifts, a wildlife pond, hedgehog highways and green wall. The team are using experts from RSPB and Barratt to help promote wildlife and nature at the house, with the garden achieving a gold rating from RSPB.

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Other ways we can help

Additional services

In addition to our laboratories, we have other areas of expertise to help us explore issues of energy consumption in buildings. These incorporate data collection from large scale field trials, building performance, using both established and novel methods, using this data to construct accurate models and simulations of buildings and data analytics to look at large data sets of building and energy performance. These teams work with partners across a range of commercial and grant funded projects, providing a comprehensive offer of energy and buildings expertise.