Extreme home makeover: Green Deal edition

Hundreds of people in Leeds will be some of the first in the UK to benefit from an energy efficient home makeover in a new demonstrator scheme.

The green renovations will be made possible if senior councillors approve plans to turn a £1.28million fund from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) into grants and interest free loans.

Members of the executive board will hear about the proposals to upgrade just over 300 properties when they meet next Wednesday (17 October).

The grants and loans will be targeted at properties with solid walls so insulation can either be attached to the outside of people’s homes or to walls on the inside. The loans will also be available for non-standard cavity walls which the council could not insulate through the Wrap Up Leeds project. These methods of insulation for ‘hard to treat’ homes are more expensive and can remain out of reach for those people that need it.

Help will be available for 304 hard to treat homes, particularly those in areas where the council knows people stand to benefit the most from using less energy and cutting their fuel bills.

And loan repayments will be used to set up a fund to help even more people to stay warm at home in the future.

It’s hoped that by making homes warmer and cheaper to run, people will no longer be in fuel poverty and their quality of life and health will improve. This has the knock on benefit of reducing pressure on healthcare and social services. The demonstrator project will also significantly reduce carbon emissions from the homes benefiting from upgrades, helping the council and city meet tough climate change targets.

The process of giving out grants and loans and organising the energy efficient overhauls will test how the Green Deal works before it is available to everyone nationally.

The Green Deal is a new way for residents to pay for energy efficiency improvements; loans will pay for insulation, boiler upgrades, new windows and renewable technology. Loan repayments will be covered by the money saved by using less energy.

The pilot project will give the council a head start and help shape how the national scheme will work locally while making older and non-traditionally built homes cosier and fuel bills more affordable.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment, said:

“This isn’t just about finance or process or testing a new scheme. This is a real opportunity for us to make a positive difference to people’s lives.

“When you can’t afford to heat your solid walled home, you can ill afford the expensive type of improvements that will help bring down your bills. It’s a vicious circle that we aim to break with this early test of the Green Deal.

“By using our expertise with Wrap Up Leeds and with this pilot behind us, we’ll be in a much better position to help significantly more Leeds residents when the Green Deal launches.

“While the financial packages on offer will pave the way for the national scheme, it also serves as an example of how we can be a truly clean, green, sustainable city; lifting people out of fuel poverty, improving people’s health, helping people reduce carbon emissions from their home and supporting jobs.”

As well as the grants and loans on offer, the council will use around £30,000 to bring two empty homes back into use. These homes will come from the ‘hard to treat’ category and will be fully kitted out with the latest energy efficient insulation to act as show homes.

Properties and communities that are due to benefit if the plans are approved are:

  • Grants for a mixture of 40 owned and rented homes in Cross Green will be provided with external insulation.

  • Grants for external insulation for 50 non-traditional build ALMO properties.

  • Grants for repairs for 40 Leeds Federated Housing Association homes in Beeston.

  • Zero per cent interest loans for external insulation for 100 privately owned solid walled properties across Leeds.

  • Zero per cent interest loans for external insulation for 50 homes bought under ‘right to buy’ in Swarcliffe.

  • Zero per cent interest loans for 20 properties across Leeds that have narrow cavity wall and can’t benefit from standard, less expensive cavity wall insulation.

It is anticipated that all works paid for by grants will be completed by the end of March 2013, loans agreements will also need to be in place by then with works funded by loans to be completed by October 2013.

Notes to editors

  • The funding from DECC is part of the low carbon element of the City Deal.

  • An overall £2.59million was made available to the Leeds City Region.

  • Leeds City Council anticipates handing out 170 loans totalling a value of £624,000.

For media enquiries please contact:

Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577

email: amanda.l.burns@leeds.gov.uk