Solar panels are to be installed on hundreds of council homes across the city as part of work to cut carbon emissions and help to reduce energy bills for residents.
At present over 400 of the city’s council homes have solar panels and the aim is to add panels to 1,000 more homes over the next 3 years.
Preparatory work for the project will begin this year, with installations due to start next year.
Solar panels are part of a package of measures highlighted in a recent report to the Housing Committee, which provides an update on action being taken in housing as part of our commitment to become a carbon neutral city by 2030.
A new Sustainability and Energy team is taking forward a range of carbon reduction projects for housing in the city.
Low carbon heating
As well as solar panels, we’re reviewing heating systems and starting to install other forms of low carbon heating in council homes.
We’ve already installed over 20 air source heat pumps, which reduce emissions and lower energy bills.
There are plans to install up to 100 more air source heat pumps this year (2022-23), focusing on homes with inefficient electric heating and lower energy efficiency ratings.
And we’re carrying out an options appraisal which will see 265 flats in blocks in north Whitehawk move from gas to low carbon heating and hot water over the next 2 to 3 years.
The project will significantly reduce carbon emissions and give residents greater control over the heating and hot water in their home.
Further options appraisals on two other communal heating systems to be upgraded to low carbon sources will be completed this year
Improving energy efficiency
We have made significant investment in upgrading existing gas boilers which are still in good working order. This means 99% of boilers in council homes are now A-rated and they are serviced regularly to maintain efficiency.
A new heating and hot water contract will start next year and - as and when they need replacing - boilers and other heaters in council homes will be replaced with low carbon, energy efficient options.
There have been improvements in the average Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings of our council homes, and the Sustainability and Energy team is developing an energy plan which will prioritise measures to improve properties with low energy performance ratings of D to F.
As well as reducing carbon emissions from our homes, we are working to reduce emissions from activities directly related to delivering our housing service and our repairs and maintenance fleet now includes 4 electric cars, 3 electric vans, and 2 electric bikes.
Warmer Homes Programme for private housing
We are part of a consortium which successfully bid for government money to fund improvements to private sector homes for households with low income and low Energy Performance Certificate rated homes.
The Warmer Homes Programme was launched in May and will run until March 2023. The funding can provide up to either £10,000 or £25,000 of funding to eligible households for energy improvements to their homes. To find out more, visit www.warmerhomes.org.uk
Warm, Safe Home grant
Funding is also available for homeowners and private tenants on low incomes struggling to afford to keep their homes warm through the Warm, Safe Home grant.
The grant is means-tested and can be used to fund electrical and gas safety checks and repairs, boiler repairs, replacement loft and cavity wall insulation, and installation of air source heat pumps, where feasible.
The maximum grant available was increased from £7,000 to £20,000 last year, using Warmer Homes programme funding.
Applications for funding are managed through the Disabled Facilities Grants process, as set out in the Disabled Facilities Grants Housing Policy. To find out more about the Warm, Safe Home grants, contact our Disabled Facilities Grant team by emailing email@example.com or calling 01273 294366.
Making a difference
Councillor Siriol Hugh-Jones, Co-chair of the Housing Committee, said: “We are committed to providing well insulated, efficiently heated, sustainable housing.
“We are already taking action to reduce carbon emissions from our council homes, and projects to install more solar panels and air source heat pumps, for example, will make a real difference.
“With rising bills and the cost-of-living crisis, we also want to ensure these projects help residents with energy costs. We will be working with tenants and their feedback will be important as we install newer technologies.
“And there is support available for energy improvements to private homes through the Warmer Homes Programme and Warm, Safe Home grants. We encourage people to check to see if they are eligible to apply.
“We are not complacent, we know there is still lots more to do and as well as pressing ahead with existing projects, we will continue to look further ways of cutting emissions from housing in the city.”
Find out more:
Carbon Reduction in Housing Update report Item 10, June Housing Committee