In September 2012, the UK's leading renewable energy heating company Ice Energy Technologies embarked on a project to tackle fuel poverty in the Jaywick area of Clacton-on-Sea, statistically the most deprived area in the UK.
Unique features of the project were that it was fully funded with no cost to the client, the installations took place during the most challenging time of the year from a weather perspective and it will have truly life-changing consequences for the tenants, many of whom were living in fuel poverty.
Meeting the customer requirements
Ice Energy was tasked with upgrading existing housing stock which at the time had expensive and inefficient heating systems in place, and to replace these with a new efficient method of heating.
As part of the project which Ice Energy identified as being suitable for CESP funding, ground source heat pumps were specified as were upgrades to the properties such as new glazing in order to maximise the efficiency of the heat pumps.
Specifying the right solution
The decision to specify heat pumps was made after consultation with the original architects of the properties to ascertain the exact nature of heat loss within them.
Whilst the properties were in fact well insulated, there was significant heat loss via the windows coupled with the inefficient electric storage heater system.
The survey conducted by Ice Energy concluded that sufficient space was available for boreholes to be drilled in order to access the stored solar heat utilised by the ground source heat pumps which were specified.
Energy consumption and environmental impact issues
That nature of ground source heat pumps and the way they use renewable energy meant by default that Ice Energy were able to specify a solution which would not only be cost-effective for the tenants, they would also be good for the environment as heat pumps do not burn fossil fuels or emit harmful CO2 gasses.
As part of the project, 5 properties will have remote monitoring installed within them and wil be monitored for a minimum period of 12 months.
The purpose of monitoring these properties is to ensure that the energy usage is as predicted but also to recognise issues before they happen and to deal effectively with them for the benefit of both the tenants and the social housing provider. This will also reduce costs incurred for sending engineers on unnecessary call outs where problems are identified remotely enabling much-needed funds to be allocated elsewhere.
Installation - minimising the effect on tenants
As part of the project was to install completely new heating systems and double-glazed windows, there was inevitably some disruption for the tenants, particularly as work took place during the latter, colder end of the year.
However, Ice Energy installers worked diligently to ensure that the disruption was minimised as much as possible by working round the day to day activities of the tenants where they could.
Additionally, as the entire heating system was being replaced, interim heating was provided where necessary until the installation was complete.
It should be noted that the heat pumps themselves are stored in purpose-built external units supplied by Ice Energy and therefore no additional living space has been lost which would not have been the case had a traditional heating system been installed.
handover packs have been distributed to tenants and include instructions on the new heating systems as well as a guide to getting the best available electricity tariffs to ensure their bills are minimised as much as possible.
The customer has been extremely pleased with the heating systems particularly as due to the nature of the CESP funding available at the time, they have been able to provide significant improvements to housing stock in the most deprived area of the UK at no cost.It is fair to say that without the ability of Ice Energy to secure this funding, it is unlikely that the improvements would have been able to proceed and tenants would still be facing the very real threat of fuel poverty.