Total Home Environment support Passive Solar for zero carbon home

Designed and constructed in 2003, the low-energy, selfbuild home of architect Chris Helmore has utilised renewable energy technology to provide ventilation, heating and domestic hot water since the new build was completed almost 9 years ago.

The home now boasts a zero carbon rating following the installation of photovoltaic panels onto the property in November 2009 to reduce the reliance on electricity during the day and work alongside the original heat pump ventilation system installed in the home.

Built in the garden of the old renovated farmhouse in which Chris Helmore had lived since 1975, the single storey property was designed with south facing windows throughout and a sunroom to retain solar heat energy within the home.

The warm air generated by the conservatory in the summer months enables the property to use passive solar techniques alongside a Genvex 525 VPC unit to provide heating to the remainder of the house. The system works by taking the air from the conservatory, passing the warm air through the heat exchanger within the unit and distributing it throughout the property.

The Genvex 525 VPC is used for ventilation systems in which both extract and air supply is required. The energy is recovered from the extract air via the cross-plate heat exchanger within the unit and the residual energy is recovered by the heat pump, which also contributes to heating the home.

Domestic hot water is provided by a Vanvex appliance with an air to water heat pump, using the energy from the air to heat up the water independently of the heating system. As the plan of the house is dictated by a passive solar design, the bathrooms are at opposite ends of the building. A pump on a time switch is therefore required to ensure hot running water is available from each bathroom with minimum heat loss when the water is not required.

Total Home Environment has provided support for both systems since installation, using the company’s 12 years’ experience supplying heat recovery ventilation and air-source heat pumps to provide unrivalled quality of service and maintenance.

Chris Helmore has been extremely impressed with the service and expertise demonstrated by Total Home Environment, “The Genvex system uses only 1kW to heat the whole house. Underfloor heating in the kitchen and two bathrooms provides a small amount of additional heating and a fan convector is utilised at intervals over a three-week period during the extremely cold winter”. He continued, “The engineer was an extremely nice guy, very polite and he was obviously very knowledgeable. I have been very impressed with the company’s dedication to its customers.”

Further information and technical advice on the range of heat recovery units from Total Home Environment is available on 0845 260 0123, email or by visiting the company’s website at

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