Manchester has been at the forefront of an experiment to improve the energy efficiency of homes, and the lives of those living in them.
The drive for more efficient methods of heating our home has benefits for all concerned parties; housebuilders have strict regulations they must meet to satisfy government criteria when it comes to efficiency.
For homeowners, better thermal insulation means less outlay on heating bills, and for the government, sustainable heating methods means an increased likelihood of meeting the carbon targets they have set for themselves to meet.
Whilst new homes are easy to make efficient, retrofitting into older housing stock presents a wholly different challenge.
Right here in Manchester, a project has already improved the lives of some residents ahead of the winter months. It isn’t the first time our city has been at the forefront of the environmental battle, with the Manchester Evening News reporting the council bought up 19 eco-friendly homes to let out as affordable earlier this year.
The Great Places initiative is hoping to further help improve the lives of tenants by driving an experiment conducted on 28 homes on the Stretford Road Estate. In conjunction with insulation manufacturer Knauf, they are seeking to make homes warmer and cheaper to heat for residents, not just by ticking the boxes required by the Energy Performance Certificate. Sarah McClelland, Environmental Manager for Great Places, believes the EPC certificates are hitting targets, but not delivering results.
“On paper, they hit our internal targets, but in reality, we were getting phone calls of complaints saying the customers were struggling to heat their homes,” she told Inside Housing Magazine.
“We even had an MP letter saying, ‘What are you going to do about this housing?’
“So, we realised that while on paper they looked like they were insulated, maybe, in reality, things weren’t working as well as they could have been.”
The first round of improvements made on the estate led to an average improvement of 31% across the properties, reducing annual heating bills for residents to the tune of £411. Those are certainly impressive savings and something other tenants on the estate may well benefit from going forward. Great Places is said to be using a much higher specification loft insulation going forward, making the project a success in the eyes of those directly benefitting.
There are several methods a tenant or homeowners can use to improve their energy efficiency. Whilst insulation is one method being developed by Great Places, Environmental Journal explains how grants can help homeowners install new boilers with improved efficiency.
An efficient boiler uses less fuel to produce the same heat in the home, making it cheaper to run. The older your boiler is, the more likely it is to be inefficient and costing you money.
A new boiler installation guide by HomeServe outlines how a new boiler might not be as expensive as you think, with like-for-like replacements being relatively straightforward from a fitting perspective. With potential savings of hundreds of pounds per year, installing a new appliance might pay for itself very quickly indeed.
Even in older homes, simply replacing old for new is a straightforward job that need not break the bank. Whilst the Great Places project in Manchester does not cover new boilers, improved thermal properties on the estate could prompt some resident to investigate further measures to save themselves money, and help turn Manchester’s housing stock eco-friendly and even more energy-efficient.
For a more light-hearted look at heating issues, learn why Women Secretly Turn Up the Heating.