Sustainability-in-Tech : ‘Zero-Bills’ New-Build Properties
A new partnership between Octopus energy and sustainable housebuilder Verto aims to develop new homes across two south-west sites that will have no energy bills because all their energy and heating will come from with solar, battery and heat pumps.
Ground-Breaking ‘Zero Bills’ Proposition
Octopus says the 70 new homes built across two sites in Cornwall and Exeter are part of its “ground-breaking ‘Zero Bills’ proposition to all housing developers, enabling more new homeowners to make energy bills a thing of the past”.
The ‘Zero Bills’ homes will be made achievable by having them fully kitted out with green energy technology including solar panels, home batteries and heat pumps. At the back end, Octopus’ proprietary technology platform, Kraken, will connect to the clean energy devices and optimise their energy usage to deliver a zero bill.
Octopus says this system will mean the new homes will have no energy bills for at least five years, guaranteed.
600 Other Homes Now Accredited & 1200 Submitted For Assessment
A previous successful ‘Zero Bills’ pilot with ilke Homes in Essex has meant that Octopus Energy has accredited almost 600 homes (affordable, shared-ownership, private, and rented) through contracts with other developers. Also, 80 more developers have started their accreditation process with Octopus and more than 1200 homes have been submitted for assessment.
Make Energy Bills And Home Emissions A Thing Of The Past
Michael Cottrell, Zero Bills Homes Director at Octopus Energy, said of the new developments: “We’re on a mission to make ‘Zero Bills’ the new standard for homes. By partnering with developers like Verto, we’re scaling this efficient green technology to homes everywhere while driving down costs for consumers.” Mr Cottrell also said that, “Together with forward-thinking developers, we can make energy bills and home emissions a thing of the past.”
UK’s First Zero Bills Development
Tom Carr, Co-Founder at Verto said of the ‘Zero Bills’ partnership: “We’re thrilled to be partnering with Octopus to launch the UK’s first fully Zero Bills developments. Verto has been delivering its Zero Carbon Smart Home™ product for over a decade: combined with Zero Bills, it represents a sea-change in sustainable housing. But this is just the beginning – we have several other exciting projects in the pipeline with Octopus, and we’re proud to be at the forefront of this movement.”
Heat Pumps Questions
Although the Octopus / Verto ‘Zero Bills’ proposition sounds very promising, many questions have been raised about heat pumps in the media recently, particularly for current homeowners thinking of replacing their gas boiler with one. Criticisms have included the prohibitive cost of air and ground source heat pumps, a suggestion that they may be slower at heating a home than a conventional boiler or electric heater, and that some homes and flats may not be compatible with them, i.e. they might not work when fitted. Other criticisms are that they may not cut bills by much and may not be particularly effective in well-insulated homes.
That said, the Octopus Verto ‘Zero Bills’ partnership homes are new builds with the entire system (solar panels, home batteries and heat pumps) already set up, integrated and designed-in using both the expertise of the energy company (Octopus) and the sustainable housebuilder (Vetro) so this should be an effective system.
What Does This Mean For Your Organisation?
Britain’s homes currently account for 13 per cent of the country’s carbon emissions and the government wants to phase out one of the main culprits, gas boilers, and have them replaced with heat pumps.
With high energy prices and a cost-of-living crisis, the solar industry has grown in the UK with more households fitting them to get the cash savings and green benefits. With this as the backdrop, the ability to build new homes with all the low carbon technology already fitted must help (in this case through a partnership) and the prospect of zero bills homes (a first) for at least five years will no doubt be appealing in itself to new build homebuyers, not to mention the feel-good green benefits. At least with the kit already fitted as part of tailored and tested system it should work well, thereby avoiding some of the pitfalls that trying to retrofit low carbon tech like heat pumps to older homes could uncover.
It’s promising (from a green perspective) that this ‘Zero Bills’ scheme is under way and that many other developers have started their accreditation process, and these schemes may also provide profitable opportunities to the developers and to suppliers of low-carbon tech for homes, thereby helping green industries in the UK to flourish. If all new developments were built with the low-carbon, sustainable tech already installed, it could certainly help cut carbon emissions and bode well for the future but the big challenge for the government is, of course, how to get existing housing into shape in terms of cutting emissions, e.g., replacing boilers with (quite expensive) heat pumps, solar panels, insulation and more.