All across Berwickshire there are homes undergoing external changes as Berwickshire Housing Association helps tenants to reduce their energy bills.
The housing association has 187 households currently living in hard-to heat homes in Duns, Coldstream, Greenlaw and Berwick. From this month, however, residents can look forward to warmer winters and lower energy use thanks to BHA and a host of ECO funding packages the association has pulled together.
“Our commitment is to ensure that our tenants live in maximum warmth and comfort and do what we can to reduce the burden of high fuel bills,” said Colin Dumma, BHA’s technical services manager.
“Now, thanks to a range of grant funding options, we have been able to put together a programme to add modern insulation to what we refer to as hard-to-heat homes. These are homes that when built originally weren’t fully equipped for our harsh winters.
“In most cases the work will involve external wall cladding. But where this is difficult we will use cavity wall fill which we know from a recent trial is highly effective.
“A total of 187 homes will benefit from this initiative and because we are able to draw on significant ECO (Energy Company Obligation) funding, the average cost-per-home to us will be around £726 – helping us keep our rents and service costs affordable.”
This is the latest in a series of BHA initiatives to bring greater warmth and lower fuel use to the Borders region. They are constantly exploring ways to reduce tenant costs and create local income.
With partners Community Energy Scotland (CES), BHA has planning consent to build a three-turbine community wind farm at Hoprigshiels Farm, near Cockburnspath, the first wind farm developed by a Housing Association in the UK. It will generate around 19GWh of electricity a year, enough to power around 4000 households - providing income for both BHA and Community Energy Scotland, helping to build new homes and supporting local community projects.
Installation of solar panels, new build homes in Eyemouth and Duns with high eco standards and intensive advice to tenants on how to maximise welfare benefits and get more for less from home energy, are also among the solutions Berwickshire Housing Association are using to make their homes as energy efficient as possible and reduce the level of fuel poverty amongst it tenants.