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Volvo Cars and partners launch One Tonne Life experiment in Sweden

Volvo Cars, A-hus and Vattenfall recently launched the six-month One Tonne Life project—an attempt by a family (the Lindells) to cut their carbon dioxide yearly emissions from seven tonnes per person to a more sustainable one tonne.

Car. Volvo has provided a C30 Electric (earlier post) for use in the project. The Volvo C30 Electric is powered by a 24 kWh Li-ion battery pack (22.7 kWh used to power the car) that is recharged via a regular wall socket. A full charge takes about eight hours; range on a full charge is up to 150 kilometers (93 miles).

The Lindells will charge the electrical car in a smart charging station in the carport. Solar cells on the house roof and exterior provide the house with electricity. The One Tonne Life house has solar cell panels both on the roof and on the exterior wall facing south which generate, for instance, the required electricity for supplementary heating, ventilation, the fridge and the freezer. All surplus electricity can be used to charge the family’s electrically-powered Volvo or be used in the joint electricity grid. The solar cells are supplied by a manufacturer that is partly owned by Vattenfall. Besides the solar cells, there are solar collectors on the roof of the carport which generate energy used to heat water and for heating.

When the house generates more electricity than it requires, the surplus is delivered to the electricity grid. Increasing small-scale and local electricity generation is a step in the development of a sustainable energy system. The solar panels meet a large portion of the household’s heating and hot water requirements during April to October. When the sun is not shining and the accumulator tanks have no solar power stored, the Lindell family get renewable energy from Vattenfall. The family can also choose electricity from low emission energy sources: from hydro, wind or nuclear power.

Using the EnergyWatch analysis tool, which is connected to the electricity metre, the family can measure electricity consumption in real time.

House. The One Tonne Life house provided by A-hus has triple-layer walls with exceptional insulation capability and minimal air leakage. Other important features are improved insulation in the roof and foundations, as well as low-energy windows and doors.

A wind-catcher in the entry hall prevents large airflows between the inside and the outside. This creates a comfortable climate inside the house and the energy consumption becomes lower. Protruding frames around the windows shade the interior when the sun is high in the summer sky, yet let in the winter sun’s energy when it is low on the horizon.

In order to ensure a supply of fresh air to the well-encapsulated house, there is a ventilation unit that sucks out spent poor-quality air and replaces it with fresh, tempered air delivered to the bedrooms, living room and other public areas. The heat in the spent air is recycled.

The building’s heating requirements are largely met by the incoming air, the occupants’ body heat and heat-generating household appliances. Supplementary underfloor heating is installed on the bottom floor. The solar cells on the roof and the south-facing facade generate electricity that provides additional heating or is used to recharge the electric car.



This is a Volvo A-hus and Vattenfall PR stunt. What is the cost of all the PV, compass orientation, and power control upgrades? Give me a half million dollars for materials and I'll cut my energy usage to 1/8th.


Of course this is PR. But a small reality check nevertheless...

An electric car needs about 20 kWh per 100 km. For 20000 km/annum that would be 4000 kWh. In Sweden I guess you'd need a pv system of ~6 kW, setting you back around 20000 euros, probably less. Add an equivalent system to cover the household electricity use.

The electrical system needs nothing special, as the article states: "that is recharged via a regular wall socket". The solar hot water heater will cost 3000 to 5000 euros (depending on the size, which wasn't mentioned).
But there are cost savings. No money spent on heating gas, no petrol, no electricity.

The complete house, including the car, was very likely less than half a million. Cut your energy to 1/8 th with half a million???? Get real. With that kind of money you will produce 10x the energy you now consume.


Anne, you are absolutely right. I stand corrected.


Reel$$...Here are some factual informations.

Our previous (too large), north oriented house used an average of 65 Kwh/day or 23735 Kwh/year, even with two heat pumps. We sold it and bought a better built, south oriented, mid-size place for about half what we got the the other place. We used some of the profit to add an ultra high performance heat pump, ultra sensitive programmable thermostats and better windows/doors. We now use 22 Kwh/day or 8030 Kwh/year and have twice the comfort level and an extra $xxxK in the bank.

We could use 4000 Kwh/year for a PHEV/BEV and we would still use a lot less -energy and fuel as before.

So, energy efficient homes do not necessarily cost more but can cost a lot less.

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