A part of Bristol’s status as 2015 European Green Capital involves becoming the UK’s most energy efficient major city. Here, the Council outline their Warm Up Bristol initiative targeting poorly insulated and energy inefficient homes
Bristol has some of the oldest housing stock in Europe and each year in the city around £108m is spent on heating homes, a third of which could be saved if all houses were insulated in line with current building standards. That’s the equivalent of the UK average annual heating bill for 140,000 houses.
In response to this issue, Bristol City Council recently launched Warm Up Bristol, an initiative offering up to 45 different home improvement measures, designed to make houses across the city warmer, cosier and more energy efficient.
The programme kicked off in October 2014 and will run for four years during which time the team aim to fit 30,000 measures across Bristol to help citizens save money and energy.
It’s not a one-size fits all solution and measures available range from solid wall insulation to draught proofing, double glazing and new boilers, depending on the best solution for a property. The ambition is to offer something for everyone and advisers from the council’s delivery partner, Climate Energy, will be visiting every home in the city over the period to tell people about the scheme.
At the heart of Warm-Up Bristol is a community-led approach. To get the initiative off the ground and engage people from the grass-roots up, Bristol City Council has been working with local community energy groups such as the Bristol Energy Network and Easton Energy Group. These groups have been helping to spread the word about the scheme and effectively ‘warm-up’ areas before advisers go around speaking to people – and this approach is working well.
Mareike Schmidt, Service Manager of the council’s Energy Service, said: “We’re running the most ambitious energy efficiency scheme in the country in Bristol as we want to help people improve their homes. “It’s not just about energy efficiency and carbon savings, but rather the benefit of living in a cosy home. We want to give people one less thing to worry about and with energy bills continuing to rise, insulating your home is one way to counter rising costs in the long-term.”
To make the benefits of installing energy efficiency measures more palpable, the team has opened a Warm-Up Bristol show home in Easton, which is open to the public three days a week. It’s complete with an energy-themed mural on the outside so it’s easily identifiable and is staffed by the volunteers from Easton Energy Group who are on hand to tell people about the scheme and what’s on offer.
Mareike continued: “One of the barriers to people insulating their homes is that it can be quite intangible and hard to imagine what solid wall insulation and other energy efficiency measures look like in practice. The show home helps us overcome these issues as people can come and take a look around and speak to a local community group about the scheme if they want to find out more.
“As well as local community energy groups, we’ve been working with Streets Alive which is a local charity who organise street parties to engage people. We want to make insulation fun and engage people in any way we can as it’s a hugely important scheme for the city.”
The show home is fully equipped with external and internal wall insulation, underfloor insulation, loft insulation, new double-glazed windows, a humidity sensitive ventilation system, new gas condensing boiler and water-saving features as well as rainwater which is used to feed the garden
Around the corner in Easton, the Demonstrator Streets can be found. These are the homes of people who won a competition to have solid wall insulation fitted on their homes. The competition was organised by Bristol City Council to build a buzz around Warm Up Bristol ahead of launch and it was hugely successful as over 100 people entered in Easton alone.
In the context of Bristol’s European Green Capital year, energy is one of the key themes and Warm-Up Bristol is central to this. Delivering the programme will help the city reach its ambitious carbon reduction targets, whilst also helping Bristol along the way to becoming the UK’s most energy-efficient major city. Warm Up Bristol is also supporting jobs in the industry with local SMEs doing the majority of the installations.
Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson, has been championing the scheme from the offset. He said:
“Warm Up Bristol gives a huge opportunity for us to address householders’ energy needs and costs. We are working with local communities with the ambition to engage residents right across the city. Real change comes from the community and I’d like to personally encourage all to grasp the nettle.
“This is a cause that is central to our Green Capital status and will lay a vital part of the foundations for Bristol to be the most sustainable city in years to come.”
Funding for Warm Up Bristol has come largely from the European Investment Bank under the European Local Energy Assistance ELENA programme, as well as Energy Company Obligation funding provided by EDF Energy, and £7.2m from the Department of Energy and Climate Change – the largest funding pot allocated to any local authority. There is special funding available for landlords with the lowest energy efficiency rated properties, as well as funding for what’s known as ‘Green Deal Communities’ in Bristol who have particularly hard to treat properties.
Bristol City Council
Tel: 0800 107 4100