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Baker Homes Blog

What people really think of retrofit works –interview with households

Posted by Daniel Navarro on 05/11/15 07:30

As winter approaches, concern about fuel poverty is ever-present – at least if you are one of the 2.3 million households in the UK still at risk. There are many ways to address fuel poverty, but energy efficiency improvements remain the best, most sustainable way to reduce energy bills whilst keeping homes warm and healthy.

There are many ways to skin a cat, of course, and sharing experiences of what worked and what didn’t is what many social landlords accredited with SHIFT value highly. At the last SHIFT conference in London, Addressing the Retrofit Performance Gap, attendees heard from Noel Brosnan, Property Services Director at Octavia Housing, talk about the pioneering London housing association’s programme of retrofit, including the challenge of treating terrace houses in conservation areas whilst keeping both local planner and residents on board.

Everyone has a different story to tell. Leon Storer, Head of Property Services of Trident Housing Association, had a CROHM assessment last year. They are clear that despite funding cuts retrofitting is still a priority for Trident, since their tenants are often vulnerable and struggle to keep up with energy bills. Homes that have been improved not only help tenants save money; they also allow them to have a better lifestyle.

Trident has been doing as much as they can with the opportunities available, and their CROHM assessment has been invaluable in identifying where they lie with their 3,500 homes. In fact, it has now been used as the basis for their five-year plan for retrofitting properties. As Leon remarks: “It’s helped us to embed retrofit as part of our asset management strategy and target the properties in most need, and to do so in a planned and efficient manner”.

And energy efficiency also works best when residents are engaged - which is exactly what Trident did as part of their investment

Sohpie, one of Trident’s residents who is now saving hundreds in energy bills thanks to new energy efficient measures in her home.

Sophie (pictured) and Jade had cavity wall insulation and solar hot water systems installed following the CROHM assessment, showing that this was the right option for their properties. The following interview shows the impacts for each household.

Are your energy bills a concern?
Sophie – It’s a struggle in the winter. It costs a fiver a day with the storage heaters on. It’s got a lot worse in the last few years.

Have the new measures made a difference?
Sophie – The panel has made a lot of difference in the summer. It’s hard to tell [the overall effect] though as we’ve not had a full year yet.

Have you had much advice on energy saving?
Jade – We’ve had some flyers through the post from the energy company telling is to turn things off. One of the engineers once gave me some advice on how to use the storage heaters properly and it’s made a big difference – saved me £4 a day!

Would you be prepared to contribute to the cost of more measures?
Sophie – Like a charge on the rent? Yes, definitely. Things like that don’t come cheap so you can’t expect them [Trident] to do it all.

Should the Government be doing more to help?
Jade – Energy prices shouldn’t be allowed to go up and down so frequently. All homes should be [required] to be insulated to a certain degree and made more airtight. If that happened people wouldn’t get so ill and the NHS wouldn’t be so over-run!

So the conclusion is – get to know your stock, have a strategy and bring residents with you if you can.

Other housing associations have carried out CROHM assessments and are now following a route map to prioritise investment in their retrofitting strategy. To learn more about how our award winning assistance can help you give the friendly team a yell at or 0875 221 2232.

Topics: Social housing, Fuel poverty, Health, Housing Associations, CROHM assessment, Wellbeing, Energy efficiency

SHIFT Awards 2015, the UK’s sustainability awards for social landlords.
10th November 2015 | the Palace Hotel | Manchester
Submit your entry below.


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