Retrofitting older homes and making them more energy efficient has always been a big but necessary challenge in the UK. Towards the end of last year, 10 homes in Nottingham were chosen to take part in a new and exciting pilot scheme. It seems the answer to more efficient older homes might be a system called Energiesprong, a method of retrofitting which has proved highly successful in the Netherlands.
What Is Energiesprong?
It’s a revolutionary approach to retrofitting homes, bringing them up to 2050 standards and creating a highly efficient properties. The whole process takes just a few days and essentially wraps the home in a prefabricated wall with solar panels on top for energy production. The aim it to create a net zero energy home (where the amount of energy created is balanced by the amount of renewable energy produced) and each property comes with a 30 year warranty for those that have it installed.
The installation has proved a great success in the Netherlands and is now being pushed out to other countries including the UK. The company is currently working with social housing providers and councils, but it’s hoped that this can be expanded to the private housing market if it proves a success.
A big key to the success is going to be how the retrofit is funded. As the company website explains:
“Part of the innovation is how the works are funded. The household pays an ‘Energy plan’, and the landlord (NCH) receives an on-going income to fund similar works to more homes. The resident has a much more comfortable home, and a flat rate cost for energy, which will not rise significantly when energy bills rise.”
The project is part of a number of different undertakings by Nottingham council designed to help improve energy efficiency across the city. While theirs is the first pilot to be set up, it’s not the only one planned over the next 12 to 18 months. London boroughs, Essex and Devon are all looking to benefit from the Energiesprong effect. Nottingham’s initial project is for ten homes to be refitted but with the option for 400 more if things go well.
What is A Net Energy Zero House?
Key to the success of the project is the idea of achieving as state of net energy zero. This means a property that produces just enough energy to heat and power itself compared to the amount of power that it produces through technologies such as solar panels.
Not only does the retrofit deliver energy efficiency for homes, it also provides a brand new façade that greatly improves the life expectancy and look of a property. The reduction in energy bills and maintenance for landlords means that this money can then be spent on paying for the upgrade. For it to work, tenants will have the same outgoings but benefit from the savings so that it doesn’t impact on their standard of living or their rent.
Projects like Energiesprong are just as vital in delivering a low carbon future in the UK as other, bigger undertakings. While it’s currently being rolled out through housing associations and councils, there’s no doubt that it could have a real impact for older buildings that often get forgotten when it comes to clean energy.
According to Jane Urquhart from the local council:
“As well as a significant cost to the household, losing excessive heat due to drafty homes has an environmental impact too. The REMOURBAN project is trialling interventions in the housing and transport sectors to accelerate Nottingham’s low carbon future and the Energiesprong model is a really exciting development for this project and for Nottingham.”