July 16, 2009
Municipal support for household insulation and other energy saving measures
The project Warm Zone is currently being implemented in Kirklees, a local authority district in the north-east of England. Warm Zone is large and ambitious in its approach and scope: Kirklees Council and Scottish Power, a large energy company – co-funded the scheme, combining public and industry funding to an impressive £21m. This money is used to provide free cavity and loft insulation for all houses in Kirklees irrespective of the residents’ or tenants’ socioeconomic status. In the framework of this project each house in Kirklees is visited individually and residents are informed about options to lower energy consumption, renewable energy production, and water conservation measures. They are offered referrals for benefits and debt advice, home fire safety checks and support for long-term carers. Four energy efficient light bulbs and a Carbon Monoxide detector are also offered free to each household. Once people sign up to the scheme a survey is carried out and if the property is suitable, cavity wall and loft insulation is installed free of charge. Where properties cannot be
insulated using these measures, householders are informed about other local schemes such as RE-Charge, which offers an interest free loan to install renewable energy technologies.
The project runs from 2007 – 2010 but already shows impressive results at the time of writing (mid-2009): around 70% of all houses have already been visited. Of those surveyed by Warm Zone approximately 25% had already been insulated prior to Warm Zone and some would not profit from the insulations works offered, but for many the insulation works progressed well.
The project compels through its clear goal setting and careful organisation across a large number of stakeholders and active participants involved (e.g. several departments of the local authority, public interest groups, and businesses). Furthermore, a well-targeted communication strategy which comprises general campaigns and personal door-to-door visits allows clear information and invitations to participate for all citizens. The many benefits of decent insulation (e.g. better comfort and health, through having a warmer home and decreased energy bills) were effectively communicated. Finally, the programme caught a lotof attention, not only because of the accomplished energy savings and hence emission reduction, but also because of its clear focus, broad scope and positive effects for local citizens and economy.