Grampian Housing Association tenants generate solar panels savings

Solar panel imageTenants of Grampian Housing Association are being given the opportunity to make free electricity while the sun shines.

An initiative, in partnership with Edison Energy, has seen solar panels installed on more than 400 of the Association’s houses in areas of Aberdeen city and throughout Aberdeenshire and Moray.

The amount of savings made by an individual household varies depending on the number of panels installed and how much electricity is used during the day, but some households may be able to save as much as £200 per year.

Richard Wilson, energy adviser, Grampian Housing Association, said: “Many tenants who have had solar panels installed are already noticing savings in their energy use, particularly if they have pre-payment meters. I have been visiting tenants to let them know how to get the most out of the electricity the solar panels produce so they get maximum benefit from the cost savings to be achieved.

“This includes, for example, using electrical appliances sequentially - doing a load of washing followed by ironing rather than using multiple appliances at the same time.

“Grampian Housing Association is committed to addressing fuel poverty experienced by tenants. As part of the energy advice service I advise tenants about switching suppliers or tariffs to get the cheapest electricity available. I also offer free energy saving tips, tackle energy debt and check eligibility for the Warm Home Discount.

“There is real money to be saved by using the solar panels effectively, switching suppliers and implementing energy saving tips.”

Grampian Housing Association is now able to offer tenants a switch to Our Power, the new energy supply company established by Scottish social housing providers. Our Power aims to reduce levels of fuel poverty by reducing heat and fuel costs for tenants and currently offers one of the lowest prepayment tariffs in the market.

The solar panels will assist in ensuring that the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH) 2020 targets are met for a number of the Association’s properties. They complement other efficiency measures undertaken including air source heat pumps and external wall insulation, all of which are aimed at reducing energy costs for tenants and boosting their disposable income.

Victoria Gardner, a Grampian Housing Association tenant in Elgin, said: “I use a pre-payment meter and I’m really noticing a big difference with the solar panels with savings of around £10 per week. I am following the tips to make sure I am getting the most from the solar panels, so my tip to other solar panel users is to read and follow the advice in the leaflet.”

Ms Gardner lives in a modern semi-detached house so coupled with good insulation and an energy efficient gas heating system the solar panels are further reducing her energy costs.

Hazel Burgess, a tenant who stays in Heathryfold, Aberdeen with her two children, said: “The solar panels have reduced my electricity costs. I’m now putting £12 into my pre-payment meter every week instead of around £25. I have two children and this makes a big difference.”

While it is an early stage for the Association’s latest solar panel initiative, its housing scheme in Newmachar, Aberdeenshire, had solar panels installed in 2011 and tenants there are benefitting from a minimum 1/5th saving on their electricity annually.

Grampian Housing Association is also helping to combat climate change, as the solar panels generate enough energy to displace 430 tonnes of carbon a year, the equivalent of taking 91 cars off the road for a year. It is also helping the Scottish Government meet its carbon reduction targets.

The initiative formed part of a larger project that Edison Energy were delivering across Scotland for four housing associations totalling 1510 installations completed in a four month period. The capital cost of the project was funded by Edison Oakapple Limited with support from Renesola, a major Chinese solar panel manufacturer. Edison Energy will continue to operate and maintain the systems over the 20-year duration of the Feed in Tariff, ensuring the maximum benefit is available to tenants across both Grampian and Scotland.

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