Town and Country Housing Group (T&CHG) commissioned Parity with the primary aim of understanding what could be achieved in their stock under the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), and in particular it might help deal with their hard-to-treat and off-gas homes. Having already achieved many of the “easy wins” under previous schemes, T&CHG were faced with a challenge of how best to drive improvements in their most poorly performing homes, which had the highest risk of fuel poverty.
CROHM Version 1.0
Town and Country Housing Group initially carried out a stock assessment after joining Sustainable Homes’ SHIFT network (sustainablehomes.co.uk). This was intended to help them understand their baseline carbon emission and to provide an high-level assessment of the options for improving their stock.
T&CHG’s were found to have average carbon dioxide emissions of around 3.5 tonnes per dwelling, slightly below the national average, but with considerable opportunities for reducing this through a programme of retrofit, with particularly cost effective potential in improving heating systems.
It was also clear from this initial analysis that much of the benefits could be gained through a focus on their hard-to-treat and off-gas properties.
T&CHG’s CROHM v2.0
Following this initial assessment, greater clarity was gained on the support available under the newly created ECO scheme. A large part of this was due to be targeted at hard-to-treat homes, and particularly those with solid wall insulation (SWI). In addition, T&CHG were keen to understand in more detail the options for improving homes in their Sherwood Estate, which was due to be the subject of a targeted programme.
Accordingly, a second round of CROHM analysis was undertaken. As a result, T&CHG were found to have around 800 properties that could be eligible for ECO funding, with lifetime CO2 savings of 54,000 tonnes of CO2. At the time of the analysis, this meant potential grant funding of £5.4-7.6 million, with a large proportion of this covering the cost of SWI.
The additional analysis for Sherwood Estate made use of Parity’s Home Energy Masterplan tool to extend the range of measures analysed in the CROHM assessment to include non RdSAP measures such as voltage optimisation (VO), low-flow showers and draught-proofing.
Across these properties, some simple measures such as low energy lighting were found to have considerable potential, but so too was VO, which was found to be a cost-effective option for over 600 properties. Again, upgrading heating systems was also found to be a way of securing substantial energy savings. A targeted programme has since delivered many of these measures.
Shortly after the project was completed, the funding for SWI under ECO was cut significantly Fortunately, additional analysis was included in the report which looked at the costs and measures required to achieve their target of a minimum SAP rating of 50 and an average SAP of 70 across all their homes. Both were found to be achievable at a cost of less than £1 million, with the priority minimum SAP target requiring SWI to be installed only 33 properties.
This demonstrated to T&CHG that an on-going focus on their low SAP/high fuel poverty risk properties was still effective and affordable, even in the context of reduced ECO funding. Schemes such as the RHI could continue to support their efforts to improve many of these properties, with the wider analysis ready for if and when the Government re-introduced major funding streams for SWI and other relevant measures.
T&CHG’s Experience of Retrofit: Paul White, Design and Quality Manager
Has retrofit become a bigger priority for T&CHG in recent years?
P: Yes, very much so. Fuel poverty is a big concern for us, especially in the light of the recent welfare reforms. There is a general need for us to do what we can to make our homes more affordable, and retrofit is one of the most obvious ways to achieve that.
What have you done up to now
P: We’ve done a lot of the easier things like our lofts and cavities,. Alongside that we’ve done a fair amount with renewable energy. We managed to get a bit of Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) funding which we used to fund heat pumps and solar hot water in off-gas properties, and we’ve installed solar PV in around 250 homes. Ensuring our rural homes are affordable to heat is a big and on-going challenge for us.
What have been major challenges for you along the way?
P: Funding, of course! But beyond that we’ve found that it’s absolutely critical to find good contractors. Just picking people with the right accreditation isn’t enough on its own—you need rigorous quality control otherwise you can end up with poor installations and disappointed tenants. That’s something we’ll put a real focus on going forward.
What are your future plans?
P: With the cuts to ECO it’s now much harder to be ambitious, but we’ll do what we can. We’ll continue to focus on our lowest SAP homes. In the immediate future we’ll be installing quite a few RHI-funded heat pumps, and mopping up the few remaining lofts and cavities.
How has your CROHM report helped you?
P: It’s formed to backbone of our strategy, helping to ensure that we’re allocating resources effectively. It’s also been important in raising awareness across the organisation and gaining buy-in from the senior team as to what retrofit can achieve. Hopefully it means we’re well placed to respond when the next funding scheme arrives!
Tenants’ Views: Leanne and Lisa
Leanne (Le) lives in a flat that has had loft and cavity wall insulation installed, which Lisa (Li) has benefited from solar PV, loft insulation and an air source heat pump. The measures are expected to save £84 and £294 per year respectively.
Are your energy bills a concern?
Le: Yes. In recent years we’ve not used the heating much—we just wore jumpers. Now we use it more as we don’t feel like it’s being wasted
Have the new measures made a difference
Li: We’re saving about £20-30 a month. It’s so much better not having storage heaters!
How was the installation process?
Le: No disruption at all. The installers we lovely—they didn’t take long and cleaned up after themselves.
Were you given help and advice after the installation?
Li: They helped me set up the programmer and thermostat. I was surprised that I am supposed to leave the heat pump on all the time. One thing I wasn’t told is that I could stop using Economy 7. Now I’ve switched I expect bigger savings on my bills.
Would you be prepared to contribute to the cost of more measures?
Le: If I had the money , yes. I’d be more up for it if I knew this place was mine forever .
Should the Government be doing more to help?
Le: Yes. People need to be
More educated about energy efficiency. Lots of people waste energy without making the connection to their [high] energy bills.