Can the green homes grant warm our homes without warming the planet?

Thermal image shows where to target home improvements to reduce energy bills

The thermal Image shows where to target home improvements to reduce energy bills - Credit: Transition Town Letchworth

The winter is when many of us turn our minds to how we can keep warm without it costing the earth.

Putting on an extra jumper rather than turning up the thermostat, turning down a radiator and closing the door on an unused room and shutting curtains at dusk are all behavioural solutions that can bring some benefits.

However, if we are to meet national emission targets, structural improvements are needed to the countries housing stock. This involves cost, but the government has recently introduced Green Homes Grant (www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-the-green-homes-grant-scheme) provides financial support so now is a good time to explore the options. 

Through the scheme homeowners in England, including landlords, can get up to £5,000 to pay up to two-thirds of the cost of energy saving measures while low income households can get 100 per cent of the costs of work covered up to £10,000.

The grant must be used to install at least one primary measure, and if you have installed a primary measure you could then install secondary measures as long as the cost does not exceed that of the primary measures.

Primary measures are installation of insulation - solid wall, cavity wall, under-floor, loft, roof or park home - or the installation of a low carbon heating measure. Secondary measures include draught proofing, replacing single glazing and improving heating controls.

Transition Town Letchworth is often asked for advice on local suppliers for low carbon home improvements. A benefit of the Green Homes Grant is that suppliers have been asked to register to be part of the scheme, which means we can all now find local companies who could undertake these home improvements.

It is good to see insulation as a key focus of the Green Homes Grant as many low carbon heating measures can only provide a cost-effective replacement for fossil-fuelled heating in a well insulated house. 

If you do not have loft or roof insulation then this is an opportune time to reduce heat loss through the roof, its usually the least disruptive insulation to install. 

Winter is the ideal time to inspect your house with a thermal camera which can help you to identify where to target home improvements to reduce your energy bills. 

Transition Town Letchworth have a thermal imaging camera (funded by a Heritage Foundation grant) which can be borrowed by local householders to detect heat loss from their home.

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