Working with design consultancy URBED, Manchester-based community energy group Carbon Co-op has pioneered a way of supporting ‘able-to-pay’ homeowners to invest in making their homes warmer and more comfortable – while reducing their energy use by around half.
By upgrading the fabric of homes and adding PV panels, cuts of 40-60% or more were made in energy consumption and emissions and £1,000/year was knocked off bills, at a level of capital spending that homeowners were willing and able to invest.
As well as dramatically reduced energy bills, homeowners who participated in the project say:
– Their homes are warmer, including first thing in the morning.
– They feel less damp and the air feels fresher.
– Homes are less draughty.
– Homes are cooler in summer when it’s hot.
Customer research showed that the project’s success resulted from the combination of a community base with expert technical advice and supervision, along with a modest financial incentive (in this case a zero-interest loan).
By bringing a group of householders and their homes together under one umbrella, important elements such as site crew training and the detailing of insulation installation could be shared, while specifications were individualised to each home in line with the needs of the building and the wishes of the owners.
This combination gave customers the confidence to invest, and enabled them to transform the performance of their homes.
I visited the project and spent time with the project team – and met some of the co-op members: a great bunch of people and an impressive project. The report I wrote for them is on their website here: Carbon Coop – Powering Down Together, with a shorter summary here Powering Down Together – summary