Journal article

Near zero energy homes – what do users think?

15 Oct 2014

With policy directions firmly moving towards net zero energy homes, what do we know about the perceptions and experiences of households who already live in homes at or near that standard? The research sets out to determine whether householders believe these buildings are thermally comfortable, and if they feel confident operating the smart technologies that help achieve the net zero energy outcome? Combining interviews from 25 households and monitored energy data from over 50 near zero energy homes, this paper examines the validity of this policy goal from the building user perspective. The evidence shows households attain high levels of thermal comfort, enjoy lower energy bills, and believe their behaviour has been influenced by the building and its energy systems. Yet many remain concerned that the building industry is unable to produce homes that maintain thermal comfort in all spaces and all seasons. The residents have also identified significant issues in the reliability and usability of the energy technologies. Whilst the policy appears valid from the end-user perspective, the case study highlights the substantial task ahead for policy makers to establish suitable commissioning and compliance processes, and develop effective energy rating tools on the path to zero energy homes.