Pensioners can be ‘friends of the earth’!

Home owners at one of the first zero carbon retirement villages in the UK are celebrating after paying no energy bills in the first year of living there – with some being handed back more than £125.


The award-winning Waterside development is set within the grounds of Middleton Hall Retirement Village, near Darlington, in County Durham, in 17 acres of secure, beautiful woodland with a wetland area and a large duck pond.


Each of the 35 bungalows are fitted with wood burning stoves, triple glazed windows and thick insulation and benefit from electricity generated from solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Interestingly, according to NHER Software, the highly insulated homes energy use for heating, hot water, lighting, cooking and appliances coulb be balanced (but probably not offset) by the electricity generated and income from the Feed-in-Tariff.


Retired teacher David Gaskell, 65, has found he actually made around £125 profit from the Feed-in-Tariff after deducting his electricity and logs bill in the 2014/15 financial year. “They’re very well insulated and we do like a cool house, but still it’s come out better than we thought it would and it’s more than covered the cost, which is excellent,” said David, who lives in a four-bedroomed bungalow. We love it here. We like the location and the community spirit and we’ve made many friends. The financial savings are an added bonus.




Retired electrical engineer Alan Mackie, 76, who lives in a 3-bedroom bungalow said he would end up with no energy bills after a year and could even receive a small payment from exporting the spare electricity that his solar panels generated. “Electric heating is normally very expensive and I had my reservations about no energy bills when we first moved in, but it has worked out at virtually nothing. We enjoy living here. It’s more like a traditional way of life with the benefits of being in a community.


Jeremy Walford, managing director of the retirement village, said: “Low carbon homes have a reputation for not achieving their projected energy savings. The projections showed it was possible but we made a point of not telling buyers in case they did not perform so well in practice. To hear that some are getting back as much as £125 is fantastic. People have loved the idea that they’re buying something spacious, sustainable and surrounded by woodland, and now we know they can save money on their energy bills it’s a further plus for them. We expect the final phase of the Waterside to sell quite quickly.


The £9m expansion of Middleton Hall Retirement Village’s accommodation and facilities has included creating a new Orangery with a cafe, bar and shop, selling produce grown at Middleton Hall and by local organic suppliers.


*Middleton Hall is holding a series of Independent Living Open Days throughout July and August. For more information log onto or call 01325 332207.


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