Bristol Home Energy Upgrade makes an impact

First energy-efficiency improvements going in

18 January 2013

Update: Applications to the Bristol Home Energy Upgrade closed at 17.00 on 22 February 2013.  Please keep an eye on this webpage for details of help available in your area.

Since the launch of the Bristol Home Energy Upgrade in early December, CSE’s Home Energy Team has been inundated with calls from homeowners eager to take advantage of this innovative pilot scheme and to date over 300 households have applied.

Bristol Home Energy Upgrade is a £2.8 million project supported by Bristol City Council which provides generous grants for home improvements with a focus on solid wall insulation and heating system upgrades. The scheme is currently closed to new solid wall insulation applications due to high demand and the time limit imposed by the Government funding.

Many applicants have now had a visit from a Green Deal Advice Organisation in order to produce an Energy Performance Certificate*, and are in the process of obtaining quotes and liaising with installers to ensure that work is completed by the March deadline.

Richard’s new heating system

The first grant claim landed on CSE’s doormat just before Christmas. Richard Brown, who lives near Windmill Hill, received a grant to replace his old, inefficient boiler and also took the opportunity to install a new wireless room thermostat giving him more control over the system. We asked him about his experience:

What motivated you to upgrade your heating system?

My girlfriend and I bought a property in Windmill Hill at the end of September 2012. The property scored quite poorly on energy assessment as it was an old Victorian end of terrace house with solid walls and little insulation. I therefore wanted to initiate a number of energy saving measures as quickly as possible in time for the fast-approaching winter. The boiler was an obvious choice as it was over 20 years old, inefficient and also extremely noisy and unreliable with over £300 spent trying to maintain it through October and November.

How did you find out about the project?

I had heard rumours of a Bristol energy efficiency scheme through the plumber we used to service and maintain the old boiler. Then in December a friend sent me an email from CSE which featured an article about the launch of the Bristol Home Energy Upgrade.  

How did you find the application process?

It was very well organised, with any help I needed only a phone call away. The only issue I had was the low numbers of accredited installers which were available at the time I applied for the grant. This has now improved significantly with much wider selection of accredited installers.

How much of a help was the grant?

The grant received from the Green Deal scheme was extremely useful and very well timed. The cost involved in purchasing the house, moving and buying white goods had taken a hefty toll on our finances. The grant meant that we could replace the boiler without the need to take out any form of financing. We managed to save approximately £750 from a total installation price of £2400 via reduced VAT on the boiler unit and the Green Deal grant.

Was it easy to get hold of the approved installers in order to get quotes and an installation date?

As I said, there were only a few approved installers available at the time that my applicable was being processed. I received quotes from three different approved installers as well as a local installer who wasn’t part of the Green Deal. I ended going ahead with the quote from Sedgemoor Heating and Plumbing who had a quote which was very close to the independent local installer. Two weeks before Christmas, the old boiler actually broke down. Sedgemoor Heating and Plumbing were excellent. Upon receiving the go-ahead they had carried out a survey within 48 hours and installed the new boiler within five days. They did an excellent job fitting the boiler, relocating the flue and providing a wireless control unit for the boiler – all in time for Christmas.  I would highly recommend them as installers, and a special thank you goes out to them for doing a sterling job in a very timely manner.

Would you recommend the project to other people?

Without a doubt. I think this scheme is great news for people who need assistance with making their homes more efficient who may not necessarily have the funds to do so. In the face of ever increasing energy prices as well as the need to reduce carbon emissions the scheme is a breath of fresh air for 2013.

Any comments generally on the Green Deal?

I have been genuinely very impressed with the efficiency and professionalism involved in this scheme as well as the options available to implement energy savings in a wide variety of housing types. I hope to install solid wall insulation later on in the year as part of the scheme which will make such a big difference in time for winter 2013/2014.

The wider impact

In trialling aspects of the forthcoming Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO), the project is providing plenty of valuable learning about how it might work in practice. It is also helping to develop the supply chain locally by engaging with installers, assessors and Green Deal Advice Organisations. The lists of approved installers and Advice Organisations is growing steadily, and with more gaining Green Deal certification over the coming months it is hoped that the local installer and assessor base will be much more developed for when the Green Deal launches in earnest at the end of January.

Householders interested in finding out more can call CSE's Home Energy Team. You can read all about the project here.

*Please note that householders applying from 7 January 2013 must have a full Green Deal Advice Report (EPC plus Occupancy Assessment) carried out in order to be eligible for funding.

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