Residents of an eco-housing tract in the UK have been hit with massive Utility bills equal to 2% of the value of their homes. It seems like a gigantic blunder by the designers of the 16 homes in Northern England.
Residents were promised cheaper bills to live in a multi-million pound eco-friendly ‘homes of the future’ complex say they will have to move out after being hit with sky-high electricity charges.
The Pavilion Gardens complex in West Bowling, Bradford, West Yorkshire, was heralded as being the most environmentally-friendly in the county when it was completed in July 2011 at a cost of £5.6million.
Residents were told their electricity bills would be £500 cheaper than average because the houses are super-insulated with biomass boilers for heating and solar panels for electricity.
But just 18 months after moving in, many residents say they have been hit with massive electrical bills almost double the annual average and they can’t afford to live in the properties.
The fault seems to lie with the local Council housing department which completely mismanaged the project.
Twelve of the 45 super-insulated homes were built to the highest level of the Government’s Code for Sustainable Homes and have innovations such as heating provided by a communal bio-mass boiler.The remainder were constructed to a slightly lower energy efficiency level, but were also equipped with air heat pumps, solar panels and rainwater harvesters.
Bradford Council and the Homes and Communities Agency jointly funded the £5.6 million scheme, which was built by Lovell and is managed by housing organisation Yorkshire Housing.
Redundant sales advisor Danny Hall, 27, lives in a three bedroom property in the complex with his wife Jaqueline, 28, and his three children – Bobbi, ten, Jack, seven, and Zachariah, 19 months, in one of the houses without the bio-mass boiler.
He said he has had constant problems with his eco heat exhaust pump, the energy regulating system that recycles cold air into warm and vice versa.
Rising costs: Danny Hall, pictured, who shares a three bedroom house on the complex with his wife and three children, says he received a £1,600 electricity bill for six months
Mr Hall has seen high electricity and water bills since moving in. Most of the houses don’t have gas bills and Mr Hall just pays for the gas usage just for his cooker.
He said: ‘We moved in August 2011 and a big attraction were the solar panels,
the rain water recycling system, and the heat exhaust pump system. The houses were supposedly the most energy efficient in Bradford.
‘We have basically had problems with them from day one.When we first moved in we noticed there wasn’t any water in the toilets and when we rang we were told it was because the recycling system wasn’t on.
‘When they turned it on water just poured through the light fittings.
“The heat exhaust pump has been working on and off and didn’t properly get fixed until November last year.
‘All the time you aren’t using the exhaust pump it switches over to the immersion upstairs. So every time it was off the immersion was on and we were paying for it.’
He got his first bill from nPower just under six months after moving in and it was £1,600.
He added: ‘We couldn’t pay all that and they told us to put in a token meter, but you can’t put them in these houses.
‘It makes life stressful because you have these bills to pay. You don’t get any help to pay them so you have bills stacking up left, right and
‘It does put a stress on your life and puts a stress on your relationship.’
Twelve houses on Pavilion Gardens are linked to a communal bio-mass boiler that provides heating, of which the downstairs is underfloor, and hot water.
They are charged a flat rate for using the boiler that varies depending on what size of house they have. The money is added automatically to their weekly rent. These homes are also fitted with a rainwater harvester and solar panels.
The other homes have rainwater harvesters and solar panels, but instead of the bio-mass boiler they have a heat exhaust pump, which work by sucking heat from waste air leaving the house and pumping it back in to provide heating and hot water
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