Over the past few months, in a peaceful corner of Gawsworth, an innovative project – with the potential to influence the future of housing in the area – has been quietly taking shape.
Peaks and Plains Housing Trust commissioned local green entrepreneur Eliot Warrington to undertake an experimental set of home-improvements to four of their properties, exploring the most cost-effective way to enhance the energy efficiency and ventilation of older houses.
Two pairs of Peaks and Plains’ bungalows were modified, adding a range of new energy-saving components including external wall insulation, foam loft insulation, mechanical heat recovery ventilation, sun tubes and LED lighting.
With the project complete and the benefits (in terms of reduced utility bills and increased comfort) being realised, local MP David Rutley paid Gawsworth resident Mavis Roberts a visit on Saturday to see how things were going.
Mavis, who works part-time at Gawsworth school, was nervous about the project at first but is rapidly becoming its strongest supporter. “When it all started, everyone in the village was wondering what was going on. Now they all tell me how lovely the bungalow looks with its new walls.”
But it’s when you get inside Mavis’s home you realise the true benefits. Standing in the hallway, lit for free by the sun tube that replaced her chimney, she explains just how much things had changed. “I have the thermostat set at 20°C, but even on cold days the central heating doesn’t need to be on for long to get to that temperature”, she said.
Mavis is also the first to acknowledge that it’s not all about technology. “I have this little meter that shows me how much electricity I’m using, so I can keep an eye on what it’s costing me. And I always close the windows and doors – just like my father used to many years ago.”
David Rutley was clearly impressed with what had been achieved. “Mavis’s home is extremely comfortable and it looks very attractive too,” he said. “It’s the first time I’ve been able to see what can be done to retrofit older houses to make them more energy efficient. It’s an approach that clearly has great potential in a town like Macclesfield.”
“We’re delighted that David Rutley found the time to visit the project” said David Gooda, Chair of Peaks and Plains Housing Trust. “It’s small in scale – but the benefits to our residents like Mavis appear to be substantial, both financially and in terms of greater comfort.”
With great timing, a community group called go-lo Macclesfield has just received a government grant to help raise awareness of the government’s Green Deal initiative, which covers many of the measures undertaken in Gawsworth. “Most of the things we’ve done to Mavis’s bungalow are eligible for the Green Deal, and free assessments and cashback grants are available for early adopters”, said Eliot.
But the last word must lie with Mavis. “So, are you pleased with it?” asked David Rutley. “Absolutely”, she replied. “I’m as snug as a bug in a rug!”
If you’re interested in a free Green Deal assessment on your home you can contact go-lo at email@example.com