The Energy Audit Company managed a successful programme in which insulation was installed free to all householders whose homes could benefit, in the Tynedale, Alnwick and Berwick districts of rural Northumberland. It’s a scenic area, with small towns, villages and isolated hamlets. But the housing is largely old and mostly off the gas grid, and many cannot afford to keep their homes warm. However, building houses with cavity walls has been the norm for over 100 years (longer than in the rest of the UK), and so many households could benefit from cavity wall insulation.
The local Councils they knew that it was often not cost-effective for insulation contractors to work with such scattered households, because demand was so low. So they brought in the Energy Audit Company who identified two things that would boost demand. Firstly, if insulation was offered free to all householders whose homes could benefit, it would increase the number of installations and avoid the time and possible stigma of means-testing. Secondly, installations would have to be carried out intensively, village-by-village, to make it efficient for the contractors.
The Energy Audit Company helped to secure sufficient funding from a range of sources. They targeted one village at a time with a Council-backed publicity drive, offering free insulation. This was quickly followed by survey visits and installation, achieving a very high take-up rate (over 80% of qualifying properties). 1,700 cavity walls and 555 lofts were insulated through the programme, bringing improved comfort and reduced energy bills to householders, and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by about 3,000 tonnes/year CO2.