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Friday, 19 September 2014

Home combines beauty and energy efficiency

WALK into Guy and Stephanie McCullough’s huge home and you are struck by its beauty. Carry on walking through and you notice that each room is exactly the same perfect temperature. Then Guy reveals its amazing Eco design that has created a modern family home. SUSAN GOODSON found out.

NESTLED back off the road on the outskirts of Ulverston is a unique house, designed and built by Guy McCullough and his team who run a building and construction company in Ulverston.

Guy designed Cullsallagh, 1 The Paddocks, Ulverston, not just for style and comfort, but to the highest energy efficient specifications available.

From the outside it looks exactly as it was designed to be – a beautiful family home.

There are well manicured gardens, garages and stables.

Surrounding all this are paddocks.

Inside, the very generous rooms have French doors and windows.

Within the lounge is an inglenook fireplace with pitch pine lintel.

An oak balustrade stairway leads to a galleried landing.

Tucked away in a cupboard in the utility room is an ordinary looking boiler-like container with fine pipes all around.

This is the heat pump.

This heating unit extracts low grade heat from the ground via metres of underground pipework and the whole operation is controlled by a computer within the heat pump.

Guy says it is always checking the temperature of each room. It was installed six years ago and has never needed adjusting.

It controls the heating pipes under the floor throughout the whole of the house, as well as the hot water.

Where does the heat come from?

It is drawn from pipes in the ground outside, laid in a slinky system. All of the pipes are laid deep in the ground and from the surface the ground around the house is a normal field in perfect working order.

The second key to the house is that it has been completely insulated from top to bottom.

It is hard to believe when Guy says: “Between the cavity in the timber frame section of the wall, recycled paper was pumped, which ends up compact and completely fireproof.”

This was the first house of this type that Guy built and he says honestly: “I am no eco warrior, I got into it by accident. The plans were already passed for eco houses on this site.

“The house was already designed with gas boiler and solar panels and, after extensive research prior to building, I decided the most efficient way forward for this house was a ground source heat pump.”

The house is so well insulated that on a cold, wet and windy day, it requires little or no heat and all rooms are a comfortable ambient temperature.

The sensors inside and out of the house controlling the internal temperature, acting as a weather compensator.

It all works so well that the total running costs of the whole house are £32 per week – that includes all utility bills excluding water.

Amazing since the home covers two floors and includes four en-suite bedrooms, three large reception rooms, a living/kitchen dining room, utility room and cloakroom.

The technology for the house was developed by the Swedish.

Guy was told with the amount of insulation within the house he would not need heating circuits upstairs, which he did not believe, but has been proved wrong.

No heat is needed within the bedrooms and the bathrooms only having heated towel rails which are more than adequate.

The house is zoned so that the temperature in each room can be adjusted if needed.

When the house was being built and was just a timber framed shell, not insulated, it was even then, on a cold January day, warmer inside than out.

Whereas with a conventional build the inside of the block shell can often feel colder and more damp than outside.

Despite the modern technology it is a normal family home, the major difference being that the heat pump tops up the temperature as required, keeping the house at a comfortable temperature at all times.

Whereas with a conventional system, people tend to have the heating on for a few hours morning and night and the building temperature fluctuates.

Guy says: “Heat pumps have advanced considerably since the installation of mine, air source especially, the life expectancy being 25 years plus and rarely, if ever giving problems.

“There are large windows throughout the house made of sustainable wood which have Argon-filled double glazed units adding to the insulation.”

The house itself is a traditional shell around a Masonite timber ‘I’ beam construction, with a traditional local slate roof.The timber frame is clad with two breathable boards forming a box section into which the insulation is pumped.

Guy also says: “The floors on the ground floor are tiled as they are a better transmitter of heat from the underfloor heating with no cold spots.”

The house has been given the highest energy rating in this area, but he laughs when he says: “We were downgraded by an energy assessor for not having enough low energy light bulbs.”

He does not hesitate when asked if he would every go back to a traditional house – “No”.

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