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Tackling fuel poverty

Published: Fri, 18 Nov 2016
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Tackling fuel poverty outlined in Energy Efficiency Report
The Housing Executive, Northern Ireland’s Home Energy Conservation Authority (HECA) has released its latest annual progress report which records the key outputs by the organisation, and other agencies, in improving the energy efficiency of housing in Northern Ireland.
The report identifies measures we considers to be practicable, cost-effective and likely to result in a significant improvement in the energy efficiency of the residential accommodation within the organisation’s housing portfolio.
Over the last 12 months, we invested over £21m to complete over 4,600 heating conversions in its homes, with an investment of £8m on innovative schemes taking place under the NI Sustainable Energy Programme.
Working in partnership with the Department for Communities, the Boiler Replacement Scheme which is administered by the Housing Executive funded nearly 5,000 new boiler installations at a cost of £3.5m. An Energy Efficiency Good Practice Guide produced by the Housing Executive was distributed for the refurbishment of dwellings to stakeholders within the housing sector which further underlined the Housing Executive’s commitment to reducing fuel poverty in homes across Northern Ireland.
The Affordable Warmth Scheme funded by the Department for Communities replaced the Warm Homes scheme from last year. This targeted approach identifies low income households who might be at risk of fuel poverty and would benefit from energy saving initiatives such as heating, double glazing and roof and wall insulation. Local councils provide assistance for householders when completing the application process, which resulted in £11.5million of work completed on households at risk of fuel poverty and £21.2million of approvals granted through the scheme during 2015/16.
In partnership with Bryson Energy, we provided energy advice to 7,178 households across Northern Ireland, established 27 new oil buying clubs, over 6,300 Housing Executive tenants got Heatsmart energy advice and an energy efficiency programme was delivered to P6 classes in 160 primary schools.
Addressing the issue of fuel poverty, the Minister for Communities, Paul Givan MLA said:  
“I welcome the annual progress report which shows that investments during 2015/16 have delivered major improvements for many households and shows how the Department and the NIHE are working to address fuel poverty, particularly for those in low income households.  
“Initiatives such the Department’s innovative Affordable Warmth Scheme, with an average investment of over £4,000 per household, is delivering improvements to the thermal efficiency and comfort of the homes of many considered to be most affected by fuel poverty.  
“The investment, intervention and advice that has been delivered throughout this year is clearly making a real difference to people’s lives throughout Northern Ireland.”   
Our Director for Regional Services Siobhan McCauley said:
“The Housing Executive is committed to tackling fuel poverty and helping tenants across Northern Ireland become more energy efficient in their homes. As outlined in the latest annual progress report, the excellent partnership working with key stakeholders is playing a significant role in dealing with the poor thermal efficiency of homes.
“In April this year, a pilot scheme was completed for the privately financed installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in 1,000 dwellings. The Housing Executive also invested £11m in completing double glazing installations in over 5,600 of its homes. Last year, we carried out the largest single stock condition survey of our properties in recent years and the data will inform our long-term strategy for our housing stock. These reinforce an enduring commitment to improving people’s homes and delivering quality service by the Housing Executive and keeping our tenants safe.
“The ongoing work carried out by the organisation’s Sustainable Development Team are enabling sustainable neighbourhoods through energy efficiency schemes and helping to make a difference in dealing with fuel poverty. The Housing Executive will continue to explore new, innovative measures in making homes across Northern Ireland more fuel efficient.”