Freezing cold in social housing? EPC below D? Help is at hand.

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Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF)

I had a great day out last week with Juliet Voisey, our local Green Councillor. She had asked to visit some of the houses that are being retrofitted by St Albans City Council to improve energy efficiency. When she invited me to join her, I was delighted.

To be very honest, I wasn’t expected too much. I thought the retrofit would be done in the usual way of most building sites – materials that are frankly dreadful for the environment and without concern for managing the waste. Witness the PIR we see, with its tin foil coating, leaning up against every available skip, full to the gunnels with stuff that could be recycled or reused.

That’ll teach me to jump to conclusions

I could not have been more surprised. The contractors and Council representatives were very focused on environmental issues, even to the point of providing swift nesting boxes to homes in the right areas.

The scheme is available for social housing tenants where the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a D or below. If they qualify, they will be provided with solar panels, loft insulation and ventilation units. Where appropriate – on older properties without cavity walls – external wall insulation (EWI) was also provided. All items that will make a big difference to energy bills.

Could they do more? Yes, of course. But choices have to be made. By focusing on solar creating sustainable energy and insulating (with mineral wool – ‘good enough’ for the earth and with a strong fire safety record) they can reach more tenants, increasing their comfort and potentially reducing their bills.

I was so impressed

The first home I went into was in the midst of having the inverter put in the loft. The first thing I noticed was the cling film material protecting the carpet. It was doing a good job, but my heart sank. All that plastic into landfill for endless years to come.

When the opportunity arose, I asked about the cling film, fully expecting the brush off and rolling eyes. I’ve been in that situation so often with builders in the past. But this time – still my beating heart – I received a very thoughtful response.

“I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe we could use dustsheets or at least heavy plastic that could be used over again.”

Happy residents – great recommendations

The contractors were taking really good care of the tenants, with one contact person to support them and make sure they understood the work being done.

It absolutely pays off. The residents seem very happy with the work which means they’ll also be happy to talk to others and encourage them to take part.

And the really big news?

The aim is to be in and out within two days maximum! Wow – that’s smooth.

EWI takes a bit longer of course, but it is outside, so the internal disruption is limited.

Well done St Albans Council. Well done Correct Contract Services (CCS)

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