Council plan to beat fuel poverty

A UNIQUE project carried out by the council has shown for the first time that 40,000 old stone houses in Calderdale can be properly insulated.

But what is missing is clear information for householders and subsidies to get the market going.

The council has spent £100,000 looking into the problem of “Hard to Treat” homes which often cost a lot more to heat than modern properties.

Now it is putting pressure on the Government to come up with a fairer deal for these home owners.

“We are not asking for more money, just for the existing funding to be better used so that more people can access it,” said Calderdale Council leader Janet Battye.

“Previously they were told nothing could be done for their homes but we have shown that this simply isn’t the case.”

She said the important research carried out by the council could make a massive difference to residents across Calderdale and in many other areas.

“We want to share our findings with Government departments, Ofgem and the energy companies so that this issue can be solved,” said Coun Battye (Lib Dem, Calder).

The most common ways to insulate homes include lagging lofts and filling cavity walls but older stone properties tend not to have cavity walls and attic rooms take up the loft space.

To find out how stone built homes could be insulated, a pilot project has worked on 40 houses across the borough, using various methods including dry-lining the inside of the roof.

There are solutions but they might be more costly or difficult to diagnose and install.

A quarter of all households in Calderdale are thought to be spending more than 10 per cent of their income on heating yet they subsidise insulation grants for others through their electricity and gas bills, at a rate of around £90 a year.

Anne Handley, whose Hebden Bridge home was improved as part of the project, said, “My gas consumption was almost halved in the winter months. I think I’ve saved about £300.”

“The insulation work has definitely added value to my house. It is an end terrace in a very exposed position but it now compares in energy efficiency with my neighbour’s mid terrace.”

“Insulating the attic ceiling and walls has turned an uncomfortable cold room that nobody liked sleeping in, into the cosiest room in the house.”

“This project showed that there are alternatives to loft and cavity wall insulation.”