Eco test home at Salford University helping find ways to make energy bills cheaper

A home built inside a giant metal box is helping researchers discover how best to save energy - and in turn make bills cheaper.

The facility, built by Salford University, tests a number of energy saving measures including the best way to use your boiler, using curtains, heat sealing front doors and the right lightbulbs to use.

It can recreate a variety of weather conditions with temperatures ranging between -20˚C to +40˚C, as well as simulating wind, rain, snow and solar radiation.

It is the largest test and research facility of its type and hopes to play a leading role in developing new low carbon homes, retrofit technologies, and crucially help alleviate fuel poverty.

Dr Richard Fitton, from the University of Salford, says the team's work is becoming more and more important.

He says: "As costs increase, hopefully the awareness will increase as well, as a research group our job is to get the messages we find out there.

"So whenever we do find new methods of saving energy and new techniques then we do publish them.

"A lot of people aren't aware of exactly how they can save energy."

Dr Fitton says the team had found a number of cost-cutting measures to help people with their bills.

He added: "In terms of cost effective measures we are talking about controlling the heating - so adjusting the thermostat down to the point where you are comfortable but not as high as you maybe have it in a low bill time.

"Controlling the heating room by room, so you can by thermostatic radiator valves so you can adjust each room by time and temperature.

"Loft insulation is quite cost effective and can save a good chunk of energy. Obviously heat rises and that's its first direct exit out of the building.

"Otherwise we're talking about the smaller things you can do, we carried out a piece of research looking at curtains - so a standard run of the mill curtains, if you close them every night when the heating is on, and couple that with blinds in your kitchen and bathroom then that can save about 2.5% in energy leaving the building.

"For something you've already got in place it's basically a free way of saving energy."