Are you preparing yourself for an energy boost this winter? This couple doesn’t have to – The Irish Times

As summer winds down, the reality of rising energy costs is starting to emerge in their homes, and many people will fear dips in temperatures as they try to keep warm in the coming months.

But some people have been lucky enough to plan ahead, ensuring that their homes are as energy efficient as possible.

Rory and Natalie Riley started the passive house project in 2014.

After searching for the perfect location for their project, the couple finally purchased the strategic location located at the mouth of Strangford Lough in Co Down, and embarked on the transformation, which they admit took some research.

“We moved to the Strangford area in 2014 hoping to find an abandoned site or house that could be replaced with a zero-energy or inefficient one,” says Rory. “This has been ambitious for me for many years, and although we originally stumbled upon another purchase that ultimately went nowhere, we then settled on the current site which we had also seen during our original research – and getting planning permission for a rebuilding property enabled us. From building what an amazing site.

“The next step was finding an innovative firm of architects who were building a good reputation, and 2020 Architects in Ballymoney seemed to fit the bill. Some of our friends were building a passive house in Strangford, so we were able to watch local O’Prey Developments (to find out how her work), taking care to learn and (later) apply the technologies needed for this kind of builds.We decided to contract with the same company to build our organization, managing the project for the entire process from start to finish – as living next door means we can participate every day without the stress of Regulate any aspect of construction.

Although much of the original synopsis was on the artistic side, Natalie’s 1902 Bluthner grand piano (a trained classical pianist who now plays it just for fun) had to be taken into account, as were the views of the lighthouse at Angus Rock. “

The couple, with daughter Emily Rory, managing Reilly Education, an international education consultancy, obtained planning permission for their construction in 2017 and began work the following spring.

“The planning has made some compromises but the preparation for Easter 2020 has been completed,” Rory says. “In the end, it was delayed by three or four months due to the first Covid lockdown – and fortunately, unlike [how it always appears to be on TV] Grand Designs, we didn’t have to go out of our house, nobody was sick or pregnant, and while we were working on a budget it wasn’t a disaster.

“The cost was very much in line with expectations – Suggest €1448 – €2,028 per square metre (£1250 – £1,750) and we’re about to fit it into this category. It would have been cheaper if we had not decided to build on a sand slope or if we had chosen not to use steel or perhaps have used less expensive windows – which are floor to ceiling, triple glazed and Passive House approved.

“Also, building on a slope has always been a problem, but building on a combination of slopes and sand leads to rather dangerous and expensive foundations. But now, sitting on top of it is our three-bedroom 200-square-meter house, which includes an upstairs office, and high-speed broadband with Zoom connectivity to the rest of the world.”

For the former elite rower, the location of the house is ideal as Rory now spends his time training the juniors at the Strangford Coastal Rowing Club, where Natalie heads and their children Sally and Christopher also participate. It also provides the family with a scenic view.

“We wake up to the beautiful view across the estuary of Strangford Lough and the Ards Peninsula to the Isle of Man,” Rory says. “It’s a view that’s always changing – with everything from tall ships, yachts and fishing boats to those stunning blue-gray days when you can’t tell the sea and clouds apart. The beach is right in front of the house with access to walking trails through rocky beaches and salt marshes – and it’s been Hunting, migratory geese, herons, seals and even orcas have all been spotted and are loved by the black cocker spaniel, Luna.

“The garden is a mixture of rocks and the fine sand of a high beach in the late Pleistocene – settled yard dung, mushroom compost and seaweed provide food for a vegetable garden with much of the rest developed as a ‘coastal meadow’ – or, in other words, I let it grow wild.

“We are really happy with the end result. We are still learning how to get the best use out of the combination of solar panels, air source heat pump, mechanical ventilation and heat recovery, as with a highly insulated home, this takes time. But as we approach this high winter, Big on energy costs, it’s comforting to know that we can keep our outside demand for energy to a minimum and yet have a home that retains heat, has no drafts, and has a constant supply of fresh air.

“Aside from all of that, the views are amazing and that’s definitely good for the soul.”

The house also provides cost savings. According to price comparison site Selectra, for example, the average energy cost of a three- or four-bedroom home in Ireland is more than €3,000 per year – and that is set to jump significantly in October.

Riley’s electric bill for the past three months has been €95 (£82) a month (including all electric vehicle charges) and €122 (£105) a month for the past six months, which is less than €1,500 a year.

“I think the cost of refueling a car is much more than most people would. We don’t have oil, gas or wood bills, only electricity, so we definitely save more than 50 percent of our home energy cost. Our costs can be lower if we cook less or If the kids spend less time in the bathroom. In the summer, when Natalie isn’t teaching, we can also use the daytime surplus electricity from the solar panels to charge the car (for free),” says Rory.

Tips for success

For anyone considering making their home more energy efficient, the father-of-three says the key is to have “wrap-around insulation with no gaps and no cold bridges.”

“After that they [passive homes] It must be sealed [with every joint taped or sealed] With a mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system it brings warm fresh air into the house,” he says. “The warmth comes from a heat exchanger, so the heat is transferred from the stale outside air to the incoming fresh air—once that’s in place, you’ll have a home Low power and you can then decide what extra heat you might want to have, what appliances will work best for you, and whether or not you have solar panels, battery, heat pump, etc.

“I think my strongest advice would be to those who are building a new home but are not thinking of going the net zero or low energy route. Because in my view, net zero energy should be a stepping stone to any new building and I find it unusual for new homes to be built Currently, it will be energy-hungry and expensive to heat and run, and may need to be retrofitted at some point at a much higher cost.

“We wanted a home that was truly sustainable and affordable – and while, yes, there are some frills, like Irish ash floors in the bedrooms and staircases and the vaulted living room ceiling, our home is basically a straightforward design and concept – so it shouldn’t be considered some kind of futuristic construction. Such homes should be the norm but until building regulations change I fear they will not be.”

Riley says anyone considering building a sustainable or passive home should do their homework first and make sure to get as much information as possible before deciding who to do the work.

“To anyone considering a building like this, I would advise talking to those of us who live in these homes,” he says. Also, there are some great examples that are currently being built and the combination of Google and YouTube will help you get started. And in terms of the actual build and what to include, I would say, question everything. You might want the latest (and expensive) technology but you might find Also you don’t need it.Also, it’s good to note that net zero energy doesn’t mean no cost.Yes, we export electricity to the grid in summer but we also have to import it during winter and of course the feed-in tariff to the grid is much lower.

“One waste of money as far as we can feel is the cables, which run throughout the house, since the wifi is so good that we simply don’t use hard wire connections – and the radiators we put in the bedrooms are frequent. But we love the warm towel rails in the bathrooms .

“Finally, good aftercare is important with any build, and O’Preys has been more than happy to go back and fix anything from door locks to a sliding door or a view crack.”