The extensive work, which has just finished following the completion of the final property in Easthouses, has taken over seven years and seen more than a third of Melville’s nearly 2,000 homes fitted with energy-efficient cladding that not only reduces heating costs and dampness but also improves heat retention and weatherproofing. It has also extended the lifespan of homes and greatly enhanced their appearance.
As well as helping tackle fuel poverty, the work is also expected to substantially reduce the environmental impact of Melville’s homes, saving more than 130,000 tonnes of carbon over the next 25 years.
Customer feedback on the work has been overwhelmingly positive with tenants reporting real increases in their comfort along with reductions in energy bills.
“From the time I moved in mine was a cold house,” said one Melville tenant from Mayfield, Dalkeith. “My kids would worry about me sitting in a coat in the living room because of how much it cost to heat. But the new cladding on the walls has meant that the house gets too hot after 30 minutes even with the thermostat at 17°c!”
The majority of the work, which was free to Melville tenants, has been carried out by SERS Energy Solutions (Scotland) Ltd and was delivered thanks to investment of almost £6m. Of this more than a third (£2.25m) came from Melville’s own finances and repayable Scottish Government HEEPS Loan funding. The remainder was paid for by grant funding, including most recently from the Scottish Government’s HEEPS: Cashback for social housing providers scheme.
“This has been a hugely important project that has benefited not just many of our customers, but also the wider community,” said Andrew Noble, chief executive of Melville Housing.
“Although the main driver was improving energy efficiency, the difference this work has made can’t just be measured in heating bills; it has also transformed the look of whole streets across Midlothian and in Forth, South Lanarkshire. These transformations didn’t come about without a great deal of hard work and commitment from Melville staff and contractors and the strategic vision of our Board. I’d like to thank everyone involved for all their efforts. They should all be extremely proud of what they’ve helped achieve.”
More than a third of Melville’s original 2,023 properties were built using non-traditional methods. They presented significant modernisation challenges as there was no cavity to fill and the construction materials provide poor heat retention.
External wall insulation has brought these homes up to similar energy standards to those which previously benefited from conventional insulation measures such as cavity wall insulation.