Thirteen creates ‘maintenance-free’ home with smart green tech

The North East housing provider Thirteen has turned a Middlesbrough house into a 'maintenance-free' home by kitting it out with smart green technology.
Three people wearing face masks in Thirteen's newly renovated 'smart' house in Middlesbrough.
Thirteen’s Helen Rooney with Vision Building Services site manager Dave Pearson and electrical manager Michael Coleman in Thirteen’s ‘smart’ house in Middlesbrough. Credit: Thirteen

The North East housing association Thirteen has turned a Middlesbrough bungalow into a ‘maintenance-free’ home by kitting it out with smart green technology.

Thirteen has worked with local contractors Vision Building Services to transform the 1960s bungalow in Coulby Newham into a modern house as it tries out new ways of making homes greener and smarter.

The open-plan, one-bedroom home has been completely reconfigured and refurbished with a range of energy-efficient technology including a thermal heat battery, zonal control units and a low-energy lighting system.

Thirteen hopes the technology will make the house low-cost to run and in need of very little ongoing maintenance, a situation which could bode well for other homes in the future.

Helen Rooney, a member of Thirteen’s technical development team and manager of the project, said: “We’re looking at new and innovative ways to improve our environmental impact. This is an opportunity to test out a range of new products, services, and smart technologies which we could use in the future.

“While it allows us to research the products on the market, there are so many benefits and we’re creating a safe, modern, energy efficient home for one of our customers.”

Technology featured in the house includes triple glazed windows and doors to reduce heat loss, electric heating in the skirting boards, and a Sunamp thermal heat battery to provide instant hot water.

The house also features a smart monitoring system, internal insulation panels, a mechanical ventilation heat recovery system (MHVR), and a low-energy lighting system with wireless switches powered by kinetic energy.

Additional extras also installed in the house include space-saving sliding doors, an induction hob, USB charging points, and under-cupboard low-energy lighting.

“We’re looking at how technology can help us become proactive, rather than reactive,” Rooney continued. “For example, we’ll know when the filters need changing on the mechanical ventilation heat recovery system.

“Otherwise, this is very much a maintenance-free home. You even get 35,000 cycles from the Sunamp until we need to do anything.”

Thirteen will monitor the effectiveness of the products it has installed in the house through sensors which will relay relevant data and help it review their performance.

The types of technology Thirteen is trying out in the house will become much more common in the future as it works towards becoming a greener organisation, Rooney added.

“The work we have been piloting in this and other locations will provide essential insight into how we ensure Thirteen’s properties move towards our goal of being carbon neutral, while lowering the costs for customers and providing a new standard of aspirational homes to the local areas,” said Thirteen’s head of technical Mark Arnold.

Thirteen is the North East’s largest landlord, owning and managing just under 34,000 homes in the region. It is also one of the region’s ten largest employers.

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