Trident Housing Association came to Parity with ambitions to greatly increase the overall performance of their housing stock. However, in the light of ever increasing budgetary pressures and falling grant funding, it was critical that improvements could be achieved as cost-effectively as possible. With a high proportion of vulnerable tenants, a key aim was to raise the efficiency of their worst performing homes – with the hope of improving residents’ ability to heat their homes affordably.
Phase I of the Analysis
The initial assessment focussed on identifying, as accurately as possible, the stock’s current baseline performance, and to assess the implications of different minimum SAP targets. The analysis showed the current average SAP rating to be 66.8 and the average CO2 emissions to be 3.6 tonnes per unit, but with a significant number of properties falling below this level. With a desire to focus on the worst performing properties first, we undertook analysis which identified the costs involved in bringing those properties with a rating of below SAP 50 up to Trident’s aspirational target of 70. This improvement was shown to be achievable at a cost of just under £620,000 spread across 94 dwellings.
Getting into the Detail
Achieving the corporate target of a SAP point a year for the next five years will be no mean feat. The total cost was estimated to be £30-40 million. However, averaged across all properties, this work out at a much more reasonable sounding £1,300-1,800. Turning to the minimum SAP analysis, it was found that the average SAP targets hid a significant level of detail.
The WALH team suggested focussing on the poorest performing 30% of properties, which suggested a minimum SAP target of 69. Achieving this target requires measures to be installed in just over 7,000 properties. Of these, it was discovered that only 11 could not cost-effectively achieve the target. These properties present a case of further detailed investigation and, possibly, disposal in the longer-term if ways cannot be found to improve things for their tenants at reasonable cost. The total cost of achieving a minimum SAP of 69 was found to be £21 million, at an average of just under £3,000 per property, with the a resulting average SAP of 72.7.
Funding schemes were found to have potentially significant implications for WAHL budgets, albeit with the proviso that considerable uncertainties still exist around ECO, and with no guarantees that such funding could be secured given the high level of competition for grants. Taken in total, the various ECO funding streams could be expected to deliver up to £26million towards the cost of energy efficiency programmes across WALH’s stock. This represents are very significant contribution towards the expected £40 million budget for achieving WAHL’s corporate average SAP target.
Solar PV was found to be widely applicable to WAHL’s stock, with larger installations unsurprisingly representing the best value for money in terms of payback. However, even these systems typically only return the initial investment after around 21 years (based on the Feed in Tariff income alone, since the bill savings accrue to the tenant). In the context of WALH’s 30 year asset management plan, such long-term investments may be justified, particularly in the light of the relatively conservative assumptions made in the analysis (e.g. on the costs of the systems, which could fall naturally or be negotiated down).
Trident’s Experience of Retrofit: Leon Storer, Head of Property Services
Has retrofit become a bigger priority for Trident in recent years?
L: I would say so, yes. The sorts of tenants we house are often vulnerable. [Through energy efficiency programmes] we can help them free up money so they have a better lifestyle. We have a vested interest too: these homes are our assets and we need to maintain them. Colder homes have lots of problems with mould and condensation which will cause damage. Up to now, we’ve tried to do as much as we can with grant funding, but we missed the boat to some extent with CERT and CESP. We’ve done most of the easy things like lofts and cavities.
What have been the barriers in the past?
L: Mainly funding. It’s also hard to find contractors that can deliver within required timescales. We’ve had some resistance from tenants too, but in a recent example a new tenant in a property where solar thermal had been refused saw their neighbours had it and has now requested to get it too. To get things done does require a lot of customer liaison which is done by our community engagement team.
Are tenants less resistant now energy bills are such a big issue?
L: Yes, the majority of people are more aware of what they’re paying and the benefits.
How has your CROHM assessment helped you future planning?
L: We’re currently using it to help us create a new five year plan. 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.ed and efficient manner.
Tenants’ Views: Sophie & Jade
Sophie (pictured, S) and Jade (J) both live in flats with recently installed cavity wall insulation and solar hot water systems. These are expected to save the residents £190 and £420 a year respectively.
Are your energy bills a concern?
S: 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
S: 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?
J: 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?
S: 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?
J: 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!