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New research: Eco-homes are too complicated

Residents living in low-energy, eco-homes have criticised the amount of technology installed in their homes

In a set of films produced by Sheffield Hallam University, tenants at three housing schemes across the UK said that they found the technology in their eco-homes confusing and complicated to use.

Marsh Grochowski’s Green Street in Nottingham was one of the schemes featured in the study. The scheme which completed in 2011 featured solar thermal hot water panels, photovoltaic panels, and MVHR.

Some residents were abandoning the homes’ complex manuals and opting for a trial and error approach and others turned to neighbours for advice on how to use the eco-features.

The research suggests that people could be missing out on the economic benefits of environmental features such as solar thermal hot water or photovoltaic panels.

Sheffield Hallam research fellow Aimee Walshaw, who led the project, is now calling on developers and housing associations to provide more education for tenants.

Aimee said: ‘Many respondents felt that the design of the home and its low energy features made it easier for them to save energy and live more sustainably.

‘But reported energy bills varied significantly between participants. Those who understood the technology within their homes tended to benefit from greater savings compared to their previous bills.

‘Most felt they had received limited inductions to their properties and the technology within it and some have struggled to get to grips with complex manuals, preferring to adopt a trial and error approach to operating the systems within the home.’

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