National Grid pays owners of ultimate eco-house

Posted: 04/01/2016

Tim and Margaret Willcox’s Somerset eco-home has been described as a ‘miniature power station’. This is extremely useful during the winter months when many of us are left anxiously awaiting the heating bill. But not for Mr and Mrs Willcox who will actually be receiving a cheque for £1,500 from the National Grid.

The eco-house which used ideas from house builders in Sweden is fully fitted with eco-effective designs. The walls and roof are insulated with 10 inch thick polystyrene panels. The couple’s home also has two different types of solar power, one which is used to heat the household water whilst a collection of photovoltaic panels are used to generate electricity. The Willcox’s also use rainwater collected in the gutters to flush the toilets and have installed a ventilation system that extracts stale air and replaces it with fresh air to prevent damp.

From November 2014 to November 2015, the couple used £292.87 on gas and £413.53 on electricity, totalling £706.40 on energy bills. With the cheque they received for nearly £1,500 from the National Grid, for the electricity their home supplies to the rest of the network, their energy bills were wiped out completely and they even made a profit of £764.60. Their rainwater harvesting system they installed has reduced their water bills by 60%. Furthermore, the photovoltaic panels- the couple uses to produce electricity- cost £12,000, although the cost of this is covered in just eight years and the couple have already lived there for six. The contract with the National Grid runs for 25 years and the payments the couple receive will rise with inflation, ensuring them a good profit. Mr Willcox stated that “If all new homes were built to this specification, or something similar, it would massively reduce the need for new power stations”. The house that cost £520,000 to build is now worth more than £800,000.

However, the government recently cut payments to homeowners who export solar power into the grid making panels today less cost-efficient. Installing the same solar panels as the Willcox’s did today would cost £5,000 and only be worth around £350 per year under a contract for 20 years. This means it would take more than 14 years for the cost of the solar panels to be made up. 

Aislinn Devlin, Pali Ltd 

www.paliltd.com

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