The Role of Renewable Technologies in Fuel Poverty Reduction
Fusion21’s Framework Manager for Retrofit, John Farley, discusses the role that renewable technologies play in helping to reduce fuel poverty.
"With 2.35 million UK households living in fuel poverty – and more than 320,000 properties rated below band E level EPC rating – it’s evident that much more needs to be done to alleviate this serious issue.
For many registered providers, keeping customers warm in their homes – whilst remaining committed to reducing carbon emissions – continues to be a priority.
There was a time when schemes like the ‘Green Deal’ offered financial support to integrate energy efficiency measures – but a reduction in available funding has meant that registered providers are now having to front the cost themselves.
So, at a time when budgets are stretched; value for money is a key focus; and a significant reduction has been made to the Feed-in Tariff – is the investment really worth it?
Well, the short answer is “yes!”
We are now seeing a shift in registered providers embedding the installation and usage of renewable technologies into long-term asset management strategies, for both new and existing homes.
These solutions will continue to offer long-term benefits to residents by greatly contributing to the reduction of fuel poverty – providing the right technologies are fitted within a suitable property type. For example: heat pumps are likely to be installed to off grid gas connections, where the greatest savings can be made.
The correct selection of an improvement measure will enhance the energy efficiency of a home; whilst reducing energy bills and carbon emissions; in addition to benefiting the health of customers.
Key measures and the benefits to customers
Another key measure available to help combat fuel poverty includes installing solar photovoltaic panels. This solution offers huge advantages to customers, despite the cuts to the Feed-in Tariff meaning a reduction in financial return for organisations.
A recent retrofit project ran by Fusion21 member Weaver Vale Housing Trust (accessed through Fusion21’s national Retrofit Framework), illustrates how customers can benefit from energy saving measures:
The initiative to install solar photovoltaic panels on 1250 homes expects customers to save approximately £150 a year on energy bills, in addition to carbon emissions being reduced by more than 5,200 tonnes a year.
In fact, customers are set to collectively save approximately £3.84 million over a 20 year period!
This project was completed before the Feed-in Tariff cuts, but if repeated, customer benefits would remain the same. The only difference now is the significantly reduced Feed-in Tariff payments received by the commissioning organisation.
Engage to change and looking to the future
Installation of renewable technologies must be followed up with resident engagement, to ensure customers understand how to get the best out of their energy efficiency measures.
This may include running workshop sessions or demonstrations; recruiting customer champions; or providing a step-by-step usage guide.
Other factors contributing to the success of renewable technologies include the quality of the product installed, and correct fit by a specialist contractor.
At Fusion21, we undertake rigorous quality assessments to review the competence of contractors, on behalf of our members. This mitigates any possible risks, ensuring those appointed to our frameworks are ranked best in terms of quality and cost.
There are a host of renewable technologies available in the market – for example Fusion21’s national Retrofit Framework offers 15 different lots suitable for domestic and commercial buildings.
When focusing on how to reduce fuel poverty, it’s safe to say the benefits of renewable technologies speak for themselves.”