Ceredigion County Council received technical advice and support from the Carbon Trust, in order to help implement Warm Homes Arbed, the Welsh Government’s major housing retrofit programme aimed at tackling fuel poverty.
Before and after retrofit: Warm Homes Arbed external wall insulation in Ceredigion
Nearly one in four households in Wales is fuel poor. A combination of low incomes, high energy prices and poorly insulated housing have led to almost 300,000 households in the country being unable to afford to adequately heat their homes.
Warm Homes Arbed is the Welsh Government’s flagship scheme for tackling this problem, providing funding for retrofit works to improve the energy efficiency of homes in deprived communities. This includes measures such as external wall insulation, boiler upgrades and connections to the mains gas supply, which are installed in areas where households are most in need of help to manage heating costs.
The Carbon Trust was appointed by the Welsh Government to provide technical support to local authorities, contractors and suppliers throughout the delivery of the Warm Homes Arbed programme across the country.
Ceredigion County Council, in West Wales, was one of the first local authorities to contact the Carbon Trust for retrofit support under the current Warm Homes Arbed scheme. The council had previously worked with the Carbon Trust through the Welsh Government’s Resource Efficient Wales programme, which supports organisations across Wales with tailored guidance on saving energy and reducing water use or waste.
After finding out about the opportunity for retrofit funding, Graeme Lane, Ceredigion County Council’s energy efficiency project manager, contacted the Carbon Trust for advice. At this stage, the Carbon Trust’s role was to support the local authority in preparing a detailed proposal for the retrofit works. This proposal was then submitted to the Welsh Government and Ceredigion was amongst the local authorities successfully granted funding to proceed with their housing retrofit programmes.
The first step of the project was for the council to identify which areas within the county would be eligible for the energy efficiency upgrade works. This was done by analysing data on domestic energy performance, mains gas connections and households receiving means-tested benefits. The 150 homes identified through this process represented a range of different property types and tenancies. This included homes that required solid wall and hard-to-treat cavity wall insulation. It involved owner-occupied, private rented and social housing.
The next step was to discuss the plans with the residents. Many of the households in the area had already independently installed cavity wall insulation in their houses. However, in a large number of cases this had been unsuccessful in actually improving the properties. Wind-driven rain had soaked into the cavity wall insulation, causing damp inside the homes.
The Warm Homes Arbed programme helped householders to overcome these past problems. Nearly 70 percent of the eligible households took up the offer of having external wall insulation installed. Many of the remaining 30 percent were listed under local conservation laws, which restrict the use of external wall insulation.
As the detailed designs for the insulation were developed, the Carbon Trust was on hand to review the specifications and plans for delivery. Identifying potential thermal bridges – routes for heat loss through the building fabric – and understanding how to mitigate their impact was a key part of this review process.
During the course of the refurbishment, the Carbon Trust conducted several site visits and advisory meetings with the council, residents, local social landlords, the contractors and the cavity wall insulation guarantee agency. This regular interaction with the project team helped to ensure that the technical specifications were being implemented correctly on site.
Having the Carbon Trust as an independent reference through the Warm Homes Arbed application process was invaluable. We utilised their expertise during delivery of works associated with technical challenges and queries which provided us with confidence and improved outcomes.
Graeme Lane, Ceredigion County Council