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28 May 2010

Energy efficiency to be tested in 'Coronation Street' homes

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Salford University embarks on long term study to find out if pink walls make people feel warmer

Salford University is launching a research project to test the psychology behind domestic energy consumption.

The University will be home to the world’s first ‘Energy House’ – a traditional pre-1920s style terraced house, built in a sealed off chamber and subjected to a wide range of advanced energy experiments.

The university hopes the house will provide important data on how the 4.5 million UK homes built before 1920 consume energy, by testing insulation and a using a climate system that will be able to generate wind, rain and solar conditions.

Beyond the brickwork, experts in psychology, health and sociology plan to bring participants into the house to learn how people could change the way they think about energy consumption.

Salford is keen to explore if the use of certain colours and wall-coverings affect how people perceive temperature and whether smart meters showing the real-time cost of energy use in the house really do change consumer behaviour.

It also wants to know if, in the future, games consoles like the Nintendo Wii could be powered by physical energy generated by the user.

When the house is commissioned next spring, it will be the centrepiece of the university’s new Energy Hub, the findings of which will be used by academics, students, government and business.

The new UK coalition government has already set energy efficiency in homes high on its agenda, so the project could provide valuable research. According to the university, 91 per cent of all UK homes would benefit substantially from improvements in energy efficiency.

“We need to find ways to make these old-build properties more efficient as they will continue to house people for generations to come. But to cost-effectively retrofit old properties and make them as carbon-efficient as possible requires detailed and robust research, said professor Steve Donnelly, the university’s dean of the faculty of science, engineering and environment.


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