This article first appeared in our Organic September issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published on 14 September 2022. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
Year 2050, according to policymakers, will mark one of the most pivotal moments in history: the eradication of all carbon emissions from the UK economy.
We can’t change the system overnight; with fossil fuels still playing such a key part in powering our homes and workplaces, a lot needs to happen to get us there.
Today Net Zero can feel more like a futuristic concept than a near-term reality, with many left wondering what this monumental shift could possibly look like to the average person and, most importantly, how we might get there.
A shared determination to find these answers is what drove Octopus Energy, ilke Homes and Gresham House to forge a pioneering, world-first partnership to create homes that have not just a zero-carbon footprint, but zero energy bills to pay, too.
Thanks to the innovation of renewable energy, A.I. and modern building technologies, they have used their shared experience in housing and renewable technologies to build the first zero-bill homes in Essex, with many more to come across the country.
The two initial houses – funded by Gresham House, a sustainable investment-focused asset manager – come equipped with an air-source heat pump, solar panels and battery storage, meaning they are powered by technology that is completely independent of gas and oil.
These low-carbon technologies combine to provide free, clean energy round the clock, with Octopus Energy providing a bespoke ‘Zero Bills’ smart tariff, using advancements in flexibility to help the system work perfectly in tandem.
This setup will allow residents to use power from their own solar panels on sunny days; any surplus solar they sell will offset the cost of energy imported from the grid when it’s cloudy – guaranteeing free energy bills all year round.
This is the magic of renewable energy: once the infrastructure is paid for, clean energy is abundant and completely cost free.
When outdated carbon-emitting energy systems are taken out of the picture, it only makes sense that costly bills will come down, too.
Precision-engineered along production lines, two factory-built homes are initially being installed on a site in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex by ilke Homes, in partnership with Gresham House.
To ensure less heat escapes in colder months and that energy use is kept to a minimum, they are incredibly well insulated – reinforced with high-performance building fabric and materials that make them super efficient and cosy at the same time.
A day in a home of the future
Picture this: it’s mid-summer, the days are glorious and the solar panels have been saturated with sunshine – more than enough to charge your battery and power your home.
Any excess green energy that’s generated is exported back to the grid, compensating for the extra electricity you will use in the winter.
The tech behind your bespoke tariff works in unison with the devices in your home, to ensure that any power generated is always used where it’s needed most – whether that means using it, storing it or supporting the National Grid or your local network operator to keep the power flowing.
This 100% clean energy contributes to making the grid greener for everyone, thereby reducing the need to burn fossil fuels.
Fast-forward to December. You wake up on a chilly winter morning, stretch your legs and, despite the icy rain falling outside, the house is already toasty.
The heat pump has been syphoning energy from the air since the early hours of the morning, gently heating up your home.