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Fuel poverty focus for housing association event

Using the example of a Trent & Dove Housing retrofit project, a recent event had raised the importance of tackling fuel poverty and reducing the number of winter deaths.

Every winter around 30,000 deaths occur in the UK, many of which are caused by tenants being too poor to heat their homes.

Trent & Dove Housing’s solution to this was to replace electric heating with ground-source heat pumps in 133 rural properties, which are also connected to small heating networks.

Director of property services Steve Grocock told the audience of more than 60 social housing professionals that his company calculated there were around 200,000 bungalows around the country that matched the profile of the recent retrofit project.

“These are homes that are off the gas network, electrically heated and in fuel poverty – or very close to it,” he said, further stating that Trent & Dove Housing had seen “an immediate saving” on tenants’ energy bills.

Mr Grocock said that despite the initial capital costs, it had proved “easy” to persuade the Trent & Dove board to invest: “Until now, many housing providers have struggled to finance the up-front capital costs associated with ground-source heat pumps, even though the maintenance costs and, of course, tenant’s energy bills are significantly reduced.”

A combination of funding from the RHI and ECO had helped to make the financial case, he said.

“With the support of Kensa and our contractors J Tomlinson and Encraft, Trent & Dove has achieved an outcome that many housing associations dream of: halved tenant energy bills, halved CO2 emissions in our stock, improved tenant health and wellbeing and £2.3m of income generated through the ECO and RHI to offset our £1.8m investment – and all in just four months.”

Jointly hosted by Trent & Dove, Kensa Heat Pumps, the National Housing Federation and associated project partners, the event was held at the Pirelli Stadium in Burton-Upon-Trent.