LOW heating bills are just one of the attractions on offer in new homes being built by Exeter City Council.

The local authority is leading the way when it comes to building new low energy housing.

Construction of 20 new homes at three sites in Exeter is now well underway and the accommodation at Bennett Square (Mincinglake) and Brookway (Whipton) is expected to be completed in spring 2015. Newport Road (Countess Wear) expected to be finished by summer 2015.

The new homes will be let to families in housing need. Three of the new houses will be built to full wheelchair accessible standards.

All of the homes are being built to the Passivhaus standard, meaning they will be cheaper to heat than a standard home and provide stable internal temperatures all year round.

Whereas an average three-bed home costs around £600 to £800 to heat per year, the new homes in the city will cost significantly less to heat.

It’s all down to the materials used. The homes will be very well insulated and airtight to eliminate uncontrolled drafts. Thick blockwork walls, external wall insulation and triple-glazed windows will allow tenants to dramatically reduce their heating bills. There’ll be further insulation under the floor and in the loft.

Each house will have a mechanical ventilation system to ensure there is sufficient fresh air in the property while at the same time ensuring that the hot air isn’t lost by using a heat exchanger.

The homes are also more human-friendly, using non-toxic materials, radial wiring to reduce low frequency electro-magnetic fields and good design and materials aimed at avoiding dust mite habitats.

One resident of a similar scheme at Rowan House said she was so happy in her new home, which had the added benefit of saving her money on her heating bill. “I have never felt hot or cold since moving in,” she added.

Cllr Rob Hannaford, Lead Councillor for Housing and Customer Access, said the City Council was ahead of the game when it came to building low energy properties.

“Whilst a number of other councils are building new housing, most of these homes are just standard homes rather than low energy or Passivhaus. In 2010, when we had completed our first Passivhaus project, there were only 30 similar projects across the whole of the country. Although that number has now risen, it does go to show how in Exeter, we are leading the way.”