The UFL eco home – UnplugD-132
Here at UFL, we have known for a long time that existing within an average UK property can be done without the need for utility services. There are 75,000 people doing it already and before the industrial revolution, everybody managed it.
We have however become very fond of our modern day gadgets and labour-saving machines, so our mission is to demonstrate that we can keep these modern day devices and still be free from utility services, and without any major lifestyle changes.
Introducing the UnplugD-132 eco home
A single story, 3 bedroom, 2 section, 620 sq ft utility free UnplugD home, accommodating 4 to 6 people.
This is the UFL eco-home; self-sufficient in power, heating, sewage/waste handling and water supply. It provides a completely carbon-free existence with absolutely no utility bills.
All you need to bring is people and food.
The design philosophy has focused on ‘reducing demand’. The consumption of heat, water and electricity has been minimised by the use of new technologies, existing technologies and innovation.
- Heat consumption has been minimised by the extensive use:- of insulating materials, triple-glazed windows, heat recovery ventilation and shower water heat recovery.
- Water consumption has been minimised by the use of:- new generation composting toilets, innovative shower cubicle design, low-consumption shower head, a timed shower tap, spring-loaded (auto-close) sink taps and plugs, low-consumption kitchen appliances.
- Electricity consumption has been minimised by the use of:- a high-efficiency battery storage system, LED lighting throughout, high-efficiency kitchen appliances (which includes the omission of the traditional oven and cooker hob and replace them with a portable halogen oven, portable induction hobs, a 3rd generation pressure cooker and a thermal vacuum cooker), and a low-power high efficiency heating system. There is of course no tumble dryer used in the eco-home; instead, the shower cubicle has been designed to accommodate a clothes horse and has its own low-power dehumidifier.
When a saving has been achieved in one of the three categories listed above, there is generally a secondary saving in one or both other categories. For example, when shower water consumption is reduced, not only is there a saving in water consumption, there is also a reduction in heating and electricity consumption.
It is the putting together of all of these savings that results in a truly zero carbon habitat. The result is far greater than the sum of the parts.
factory pre-fabricated (two halves), allowing the entire house to be shipped to site using two lorries. The house takes only one day to assemble on-site and can be disassembled in the same time
requires no foundations and very little groundwork – a level plot with railway sleepers would suffice. A grey water soak-away is required.
Power supplied by state-of-the-art solar PV panels.
A state-of-the-art battery bank which has a charge/recharge cycle efficiency of 97% (compared with 80% when using lead acid batteries)
multiple heavy duty, low frequency, high efficiency inverters providing reliable sine wave AC power
heat is actively collected from the surrounding environment (sunshine, ambient air and even rainwater)
almost 9 cubic meters of thermal mass (part of which is intrinsic to the structure) stores the collected heat and smooths out the fluctuations in weather conditions
heating backup is provided by a wood-burning (multi-fuel) stove, which is also used for disposal of combustible wastes
low-emissivity strengthened double glazing used throughout, fitted using anti-thermal bridging frame system
air-sealed construction (If immersed in sufficient water, this house would float) with unique and innovative UFL-designed active heat-recovery ventilation, whose primary purpose is humidity control when cooking, showering and/or drying clothes
passive heat recovery technology is employed to maintain air-freshness
built from reclaimed boat-grade heavy duty steel with copious insulation inside and out. Lifetime guarantee on structural integrity and absence of corrosion.
Low power appliances and LED lighting throughout, including:-
steam restricted kettle
heat recovered fridge/freezer
low power microwave oven
high efficiency washing machine (minimal water consumption)
high efficiency dishwasher (minimal water consumption)
- water supply provided by rain water capture and air moisture extraction. Up to 5000 litres of filtrated and UV-sterilised water is stored in stainless steel tanks – never missing a drop to guarantee supply
- water-saving shower system with UFL-designed waste water heat recovery
- State-of-the-art, automatic, odour-free composting technology used for sewage processing and waste food. No urine separation mechanism needed
Though a wood burning cooking stove is supplied as a heating back-up system, this house is so energy efficient that with a little extra electrical input during the months of December and January (perhaps using a small wind turbine if planning permits), the house could provide all the heat and electricity for it’s occupants without using any fuel whatsoever.
Models and Markets
The photos shown above are of the UnplugD-132 plus. This model is for the leisure/holiday home market, but could also be right for the ‘granny flat’ on larger properties. This model features a log (multi-fuel) burning stove which is there to provide a warming focal point within the lounge.
The standard UnplugD-132 model is targeted at the council housing sector and features a log (multi-fuel) cooking stove that provides back-up heating and cooking when the darkest of December and January days restrict the available power from the sun.
A range of external wooden cladding styles and colours are available and a large range of internal colour schemes and kitchen/bathroom designs are available too.
A two storey UnplugD-244 model is currently being developed.
The dimensions (13m x 5m) and form-factor (pre-fabricated two-halves with no foundations) design put this house within the formal definition of a caravan, thus avoiding some major planning restrictions