Home – it is a word that has many meanings for us. It is a physical space where we live, it is also where we enact our lives, where we spend time with family and friends and a place where we can express ourselves in the way we decorate and the items we put in our homes.
In the case of low carbon homes, both retrofitted and new build, a home is also where we live and engage with new technology on a daily basis. Low and zero carbon homes transform a home from a space where energy is consumed, to a space which can generate its own energy. This will impact and shape the lives of those who live within the home, but also the wider community and society as we seek to address climate change through zero carbon targets. But what is it like to live in a low carbon home?
That is what the Healthy Living in Low Carbon Homes team is exploring by undertaking research with residents of new build low carbon homes and residents who are having their homes retrofitted with low carbon technologies. We are exploring the potential health, social, and financial well-being benefits that low carbon homes can bring for residents.
What is evident from the data collected so far is that, as well as cost savings in terms of energy bills, for some residents, moving into low carbon homes and those having their home retrofitted, a reduction in carbon emissions and improved wellbeing are important factors. Just take a look at some of the quotes we have captured so far:
“I’m just trying to be more environmentally friendly and trying to keep my usage down so that my bills aren’t a staggering rate at the end of the month or year or whatever, at the same time”– Resident, new build
“Reduced carbon footprint, bills, and just a better sense of wellbeing”– Resident, new build
“It sounds good reducing the carbon emissions also would like to save money”– Resident, retrofitted home
It is also becoming evident that having a home that is comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, and in a pleasant environment is also important to people as it enables them to spend time with family and friends in a home that is warm and welcoming.
“I’m 5-10 minutes away from my family, I can always pop to the corner shop if I do need a bit of human contact, sort of thing but at the same time, everyone round here is lovely.”– Resident, new build
We all have a vested interest in addressing climate change. The individuals who move into low carbon homes, and those who have agreed to have their homes retrofitted with low carbon technologies, are pioneers in decarbonising domestic buildings. Although they are signing up primarily to save money on energy use, they are leading the way for others to follow by being early adopters of new low carbon technologies. Their homes are making a statement about the importance of climate change and the role we all have to play in achieving low carbon targets.
Dr Deborah Morgan is a senior researcher at Swansea University and has a background in social gerontology, sociology, and health and social care.