Working with external organisations to secure funds for energy efficiency works - Wrexham County Borough Council

3 Jun 2010 - 12:00am

Cymru Gynnes Ltd (Warm Wales) builds upon the most successful Warm Zones Model developed at Stockton on Tees by National Grid Transco (NGT) and subsequently rolled out to Redcar and Cleveland and Newcastle upon Tyne. Warm Wales, led by NGTs Affordable Warmth Programme, started its first three-year project at Neath Port Talbot Council in 2004, then in Wrexham in 2005.

Both schemes operate as partnerships between the Councils, the NGT, npower, Warm Zones Ltd and the Assembly Government. They seek to alleviate fuel poverty by:

  • using teams of assessors to survey private homes in the locality and identify households in fuel poverty;
  • initially targeting assessment and installation work upon those wards identified as experiencing high levels of social deprivation (although both councils expect assessment teams to have visited all wards by the end of the three-year period);
  • providing financial assistance for a range of energy efficiency works in homes assessed as suffering from fuel poverty;
  • referring eligible households to relevant grant schemes such as the Assembly Government's HEES;
  • co-ordinating and funding a network of organisations to offer advice relating to debt, benefits and energy efficiency;
  • providing owner-occupiers over the age of 60 with free installation measures; and
  • installing a range of energy efficiency works in all council-owned properties (regardless of ability to pay).

Available measures include cavity wall and loft insulation, low-energy light bulbs and hot-water tank jackets. This large-scale and systematic approach to identifying fuel-poor households and carrying out relevant energy efficiency works creates blocks of work for installers and enables the partnerships to take advantage of efficiencies of scale. The Assessment Phase will provide detailed and comprehensive information about the condition of housing, particularly private-sector housing, in the area.

Schemes are funded predominantly by the Councils, the EEC Partner and householders, although other sources such as European funds may be used.

Scheme outcomes: Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council By 31 October 2006 over:

  • 34,000 initial assessments have been completed;
  • 16,100 detailed home surveys carried out;
  • 15,000 homes have received free loft and cavity wall insulation;
  • 1,100 homes have received discounted measures;
  • 500 new or improved gas heating systems have been installed;
  • 250 homes have received a new gas connections;
  • 100,000 free low-energy light bulbs have been distributed;
  • 60,000 households have received free energy efficiency advice; and
  • 8,500 people have requested free benefits advice and over £1.25 million has been paid in new or backdated payments.

Scheme outcomes: Wrexham County Borough Council

To January 2007:

  • the Council estimated that residents have made an equivalent of over £5 million in energy savings since the introduction ofthe Warm Wales Initiative;
  • cavity wall and loft insulation equivalent to £1 million had been installed free in approximately 5,000 homes, with an estimated reduction in CO2 emissions of over 900 tonnes; and fuel poverty levels within the Council are estimated to have decreased from 19 to 16 per cent.

In both cases the scheme is likely to:

  • alleviate fuel poverty by increasing income levels and/or reducing the amount of energy needed to heat the home to a comfortable level; and
  • reduce energy consumption and associated CO2 emissions by improving the capacity ofthe home to retain heat and/or to generate heat more efficiently.

However, to accurately assess the impacts of the scheme on energy use and carbon emissions, the Council needs to gather before and after energy consumption data from relevant utility companies. Although it is possible to estimate the theoretical savings by modelling using SAP.

The potential to extend these schemes across Wales has yet to be explored.

Name: Bill Jones
Title/Role: Principal Energy Manager
Telephone: 01978 297208

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