Fabric First is good recipe for retrofits

6th August, 2013

But survey shows rise in electricity use despite savings on heating bills

A Fabric First approach to retrofitting energy efficiency measures in the social housing sector is effective in reducing space heating energy but a study by social housing provider Affinity Sutton found that most households did not reduce their electricity consumption.

The findings were revealed in Affinity Sutton’s FutureFit report, published on 18 July, researching the impact of retrofitting various energy efficiency measures at 150 properties drawn from 22 common types of housing.

Results from the study, which was implemented in 2011, show that retrofitting using a fabric first approach does work. The most significant results were achieved in electrically heated properties, which saved on average £557 a year, while residents with gas heating saved an average £72 a year on their bill.

In contrast to savings on heating, 60% of households actually increased their electricity use post-retrofit. Affinity says the increase is “unlikely to be related to the mostly fabric improvements installed” but could be down to poor weather keeping people indoors and residents buying new appliances.

Considering total energy bills, the general increase in electricity consumption and the higher unit price of electricity eroded the savings in gas bill savings for space heating.

The retrofits did not involve the installation of any highly complex technologies but there was still a lack of understanding of new technology by residents, installers and maintainers. Zoned heating was highlighted as causing particular problems and was responsible for 18% of reported issues. 16% of technology problems were attributed to incorrect installation.

The report also found that most households did not reduce their energy use post-retrofit to the same extent as the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) modelling predicted. The report suggests a number of reasons for the difference including: some tenants under-heating their homes so reducing realised savings; tenants having difficulty operating controls to realise potential savings; and SAP over-predicting baseline energy use in a household. 

To view the report click here.

Source: Building4Change

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