Introduction to retrofit

It is vital that homes across Southend become more energy efficient. Around 80% of the homes that will exist in 2050 are the ones that have already been built. By reducing the amount of energy used by homes, we help tackle climate change and reduce fuel poverty.

A lot of Southend’s housing stock is old and inefficient. Southend’s carbon footprint shows that 39.5% of the Cities carbon emissions are caused by providing heat and power to homes.

What is Retrofit?

Retrofit is the process of fitting new energy saving measures to buildings that were previously built without them. This can range from small measures, such as LED lighting and draught proofing, to big changes, like wall insulation and solar panels.

A more efficient home will be:

  • Cheaper to run
  • Have a lesser impact on the environment
  • Potential to increase the value of the property

Examples of retrofit:

  • Heat retention – This involves improving the ‘fabric’ of the home to make it better insulated and free from draughts. This reduces the amount of energy needed to heat a home by retaining more heat. These measures should be undertaken before changing your heating system as they will cut down the amount of energy that you need. This may mean that you can reduce the size of the system. For example, if your house retains more heat then you may be able to install a smaller heat pump to achieve the same temperatures
  • Low carbon heat - Upgrading your heating source can reduce your bills and carbon footprint if selected correctly, this may involve measures such as upgrading your gas boiler to an electric heat pump
  • Energy generation – This involves creating energy through renewable sources such as solar power. By producing your own energy, you can reduce your demand from the grid and become more independent

Why do we need to do it?

Lower Energy bills:

Southend is above the national average for fuel poverty, and it is important to find ways to reduce costs:

  • Insulate homes to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat the home
  • Efficient low carbon heating can lower the impact of further energy price rises
  • Lower bills can help to prevent rent or mortgage arrears and increase the amount of money we have left over to spend in the local economy

Reduced carbon footprint:

  • The lower the amount of energy needed to heat a home reduces its carbon footprint
  • A lot of the country’s electricity is now created through renewable energy sources, so by changing from gas to electric heating systems, we reduce the amount of fossil fuels burnt

Higher property value:

Compliance with regulations:

The UK has a legally binding target to be net zero carbon by 2050. The government have proposed several regulations to reduce carbon emissions from homes. This includes:

  • Ban on replacement gas boilers from 2035
  • All private rented homes much have an EPC rating of C by 2028
  • All social housing must have an EPC rating of C by 2030

Healthier homes:

The Building Research Establishment (BRE) have estimated that poor quality housing costs the NHS £1.4 billion in avoidable treatments

  • Improved insulation can reduce cold spots and draughts
  • Improved ventilation can reduce the risk of damp and mould which can help prevent health conditions such as cold flu and breathing problems
  • Homes can become more resilient to changing climate and help protect against hotter summers

Reduce maintenance:

  • Improving ventilation can help reduce damp and mould and can help to maintain the stability of the home for longer

How to start:

Start with a “fabric first approach.” This means a focus on insulation, draught proofing, and ventilation improvements before changing energy systems, this is vital because:

  • Investment will reduce the amount of energy that your home uses at source
  • These improvements will lower your fuel bills and improve comfort and health
  • Money saved on bills means that they often pay for themselves within a few years. For example, loft insulation takes a few years to payback, and this is even less with rising energy prices
  • Many low carbon heating systems work best with homes that are well insulated, such as heat pumps
  • If you install a new heating system before insulating, your system may eventually end up being oversized and work less efficiently