Over 1000 households in Renfrewshire struggling with fuel poverty are to benefit from two major projects worth around £6million.
Renfrewshire Council has pulled together a major funding package after carrying out extensive research to show that residents in the Gallowhill and George Street areas of Paisley are at high risk of fuel poverty due to poor wall insulation or outdated heating systems.
£3.35m from the Scottish Government’s Home Energy Efficiency Programme for Scotland: Area Based Schemes (HEEPS:ABS) combined with over £560,000 from the council will be used to carry out major improvements to housing in order to reduce fuel bills and carbon emissions. The programme will also benefit from an estimated £1.9m through the national carbon reduction programme delivered by a major energy provider.
The funding adds to a wide range of initiatives already being run by the council to help the people of Renfrewshire tackle fuel poverty.
The projects will provide new heating systems for over 300 people in the George Street area who are currently stuck with a district heating scheme that was installed when the properties were built in the 1960s.
The system is extremely inefficient as individuals have limited control over the temperature or timing of heating in their own homes. This means tenants are paying unnecessarily high heating bills and the buildings are releasing a high level of carbon.
The funding will be used to switch all the households to individual modern central heating systems, with their own boilers and new radiators.
The funding means that the new systems will be installed for both council tenants and private owners free of charge. It’s expected that the switch would reduce carbon emissions by around 400 tonnes a year.
In Gallowhill, the council are proposing to work with an energy provider on an Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme that will provide external insulation for more than 700 hard to heat properties built in the 1930s.
ECO requires energy suppliers to provide energy efficiency measures to people living in hard to heat homes and lower income and vulnerable households. ECO is part of the government’s strategy for cutting the amount of greenhouse gases generated from burning fossil fuels.
This work will be in addition to loft insulation work already carried out to homes in the Gallowhill area.
Councillor Tommy Williams, Convener of the council’s Housing and Community Safety Policy Board, said: “Fuel poverty is sadly one of the biggest challenges faces households in Renfrewshire and we are committed to doing everything we can to tackle that. We have carefully researched the areas where people are most in need, based on both the condition of their houses and social conditions and we’ve used that information to pull together this major package of funding so we can make a real difference.
“And the great thing is that through this funding we are able to make these changes not just for our own tenants but to individual home owners free of charge so the whole community will benefit. We will continue to look for ways to support local people facing fuel poverty.”
As part of the council’s efforts to make homes more energy efficient, thousands of council tenants have already benefitted from external improvements such as over-cladding, new roofs and new central heating systems as part of the £138million Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS) programme.
Nearly 500 families in the Charleston area Paisley will also benefit from cheaper fuel bills thanks to an innovative project to replace a 1960s District Heating Scheme with a state-of-art a biomass boiler system.
A new advocacy service has also been set up by the council to help families tackle fuel poverty. In the last three months, Energy Advice Renfrewshire has already generated a total annual energy bill saving of £33,000 across 130 families.