wallshall-housing-group

WHG NEA Case Study

SCOPE

Project scope

The properties were owned by WHG (previously Walsall Housing Group but now expanding beyond Walsall), one of the West Midlands’ leading providers of high-quality homes, owning and managing around 21,000 properties across the Midlands, and providing affordable, good quality homes and community-based services to the local community.

The monitored properties were all 2-bedroom flats in a 15-storey tower block, though occupant types varied. This is part of a pair, so some of the control properties were found from the neighbouring identical tower block.

The flats were of concrete and brick construction and had relatively recently been externally clad with insulation (completed in 2016). At the same time, external doors (to balconies) and windows had been replaced with new UPVC double glazing, upgrading the thermal retention of the building.

The project had the following aims:

  • Replace the existing storage heaters with Enviroheat’s lower-energy on peak EconoRads and EconoCylinder, on a flat-rate energy tariff
  • Assess any change in residents’ comfort – as reported in questionnaires, and measured using temperature and humidity monitors – after the new heating, any solar PV and coupled system
  • Quantify any change in electricity use and costs for heating, and general household use, following the measures, compared to the period prior to installation, and the control properties
  • Report any change in ease of use of the heating system with the new measures fitted
  • Compare the solution in terms of cost, comfort/temperatures achieved, ease of control by the tenants, in comparison to control properties
  • Determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of these measures to reduce fuel poverty in off-gas developments of flats, and whether either solution is more suitable or effective – information relevant to many social housing (and private) owners in many areas of the country.

SOLUTION

The solution

Old storage heaters and bedroom panel heaters were replaced by Enviroheat HET EconoRad. The household’s immersion tank was also replaced by a vented copper EconoCylinder. The heaters were controlled by Honeywell room thermostats, with overall control provided by Evohome.

To meet the Lot 20 regulation described above, direct-acting heaters must have an electronic room temperature control plus a week timer, and one of: a distance control option; adaptive start control; open window sensing. With Evohome, which learns a household’s routine so can act as a timer and an adaptive control, this system meets the regulation.

WHG had identified a tower block of suitable properties to improve. 16 of these households were willing to be part of the study, 10 Enviroheat, 6 Control (all of whom received monitoring). All the properties were 2-bedroom flats with electric storage heating (if used), except for one which had electric panel heaters fitted. All had electric immersion heaters for domestic hot water (DHW) but this was not necessarily used.

All properties were monitored for temperature and humidity, and current clamps were also fitted to monitor household and heating electricity use in all properties. 5 were fitted with sub-meters and pulse loggers to monitor the heating and hot water system’s energy use.  All households were asked to record their electricity meter readings every 2 weeks for the duration of the study, and to provide bills detailing previous consumption, or to permit us to contact their electricity supplier to gather this information. Pre-installation questionnaires were carried out with residents in November 2017 to gather information on household occupancy, energy using behaviours and costs, and satisfaction with the existing heating and insulation.

Installation of the Enviroheat radiators took place in Oct-Nov 2017, then the smart meters were installed in those which required them in December 2017. Properties were visited in late February 2018 to check that all monitoring equipment was still present and in the correct location after all the works carried out, and corrected if required. Monitoring continued until June 2018 when all removable monitoring equipment was collected, and a final questionnaire was carried out to gauge resident satisfaction with their heating, hot water, and electricity usage now they had experienced most of a winter with the measures fitted.

FEEDBACK

Summary of findings

Energy consumption

Current clamp and sub-meter monitoring of heating energy usage shows that properties used less energy for heating – and a lower proportion of total energy use. Only 70% of properties were able to provide energy consumption beforehand. Most properties with the exception of T-04 T-02 and T-52 were noted to be under using the heating in the “before” period.

“After” period highlights that all properties are heating to their own thermal comfort levels, some outliers with T03 and T19 should be omitted due to an evident non-use of heating before vs usage after. Customers for the first time were given control over when and wherein the properties they wanted to be warm and have hot water.

On average we see a small 2.83% in cost-saving due to the imbalance of information before and after, but some positive results were found in T-04 and T52 who regularly used heating before and after.

Property T-04 as an example:

30.11.16 – 24.06.18 a period of 206 days prior to installation of Enviroheat Products recorded an energy consumption over 5531 degree days of 1438.9 kWh. An average of 3.884 kWh per degree day. Annual costs of £1390.29. Averaging 26.85 kw/day

Results after installation

07.11.17 – 21.06.18 a period of 226 days post-installation of Enviroheat Products recorded an energy consumption over 4231.0 degree days of 1823.4 kWh. An average of 2.320 kWh per degree day. Annual costs of £786.92. Averaging 18.72 kw/day

Cost-saving £603.37 a 43.4% reduction in billing.


Thermal Comfort and Controllability

All but one property, V-06, achieved the 18-21°C recommended temperature range for comfort and good health before installation, and all did after the new heating was installed.

  • Residents’ feedback indicated a marked improvement in comfort, with numbers saying they could keep comfortably warm at home increasing from 20% of properties initially interviewed in the group, up to 100% at the end of the study.
  • Numbers reporting they needed to wear additional warm clothes in the home to keep warm enough decreased from 70% to only 30% by the end of the study.
  • 50% of the group said they could now heat and/or comfortably use more of the flat.
  • Before the new heating, 30% had only heated one room, and 20% rarely heated the flat at all. Only 30% heated most rooms, but none heated the whole flat. By the end of the study, whilst 30% still reported heating only the living room, none used no heating, and 40% stated they could now heat the whole flat.
  • The households did not have thermostats previously so residents’ prior ideas of their heating temperatures would not be accurate. At the end of the study, 100% of the group said they heated their flat to 18-21°C or higher (7 to over 21°C).
  • Daily supplementary heating use decreased from 12 of the 20 households (7 of these instead of storage heaters) to 20%, who used it only briefly to heat rooms quickly on getting up / bathing children.

Notable benefits identified included:

  • The heating being easier to use / control, the flat being warmer and more comfortable, and the new radiators looking better than the old ones.
  • 80% of the group also felt that their home kept the heat in better – as no insulation work was done, we believe this question was interpreted as being able to have heat later in the evening than was previously possible.
  • Many said the new heating improved the quality of the home, and the house got warmer faster.
  • Parents of young children commented that the new heaters were cooler to the touch than the old storage heaters – less likely to burn children – so safer to use.
  • Residents’ behaviour also changed – few previously adjusted the controls of their storage heaters, but after the new heating, 90% adjusted the heater controls if they were too hot/cold rather than putting on/taking off clothes or opening windows.
  • 40% of residents felt their hot water use was easier / better than previously, and 40% felt it was the same as before (20% did not answer).
  • 66% of households in the group who had previously suffered damp/mould issues said it was improved.
  • Satisfaction with all aspects of the heating improved, particularly relating to how much control they had over the heating and how easy it was to use, both very low previously.
  • In many aspects, satisfaction increased above the control group levels – for the new heating systems in the amount of control over their heating, and for the cost of running the system.

The group is now on average satisfied with how warm their flat gets when it’s cold outside, how easy the system is to use, and how well the home keeps the heat in.

In terms of ease of use, most householders felt the new heaters were easier to use than their old ones, knew as much as they needed to about how the system worked, and how best to use it. They only slightly agreed that it didn’t require too much input, as most were actively turning the heating on and off as needed.

Installation

Enviroheat installations didn’t take long, most properties only took 1 day with customers still living in the property.

  • Residents’ views about the organization of the project were generally good, agreeing that installers were careful and respectful, they were told in advance when installers were coming and had been given all the info needed before they agreed to take part.
  • The group also agreed that they were kept informed of any delays or changes, and they’d been given details of a contact for any issues.
  • For support needs, most in the group agreed that they were clearly shown how to use the system, and received a manual / guide, knew who to contact about any issues, and received prompt & effective support if needed.
  • Despite one householder being unsure if they’d received paper instructions, 100% felt they knew how to control their system.
  • Most in the group were aware that they should switch to a flat rate tariff and had done so (some discovered they were already on one), with some requesting support to do this, but 2 residents were found to still be on an Economy 7 tariff at the final interview.
  • One was assisted to switch to a flat rate at that time, the other was referred to WHG for this support.Perception of running cost

By the end of the study

  • 30% of the households felt that their bills were cheaper, of this 30% 2/3 said this had reduced their money worries a little, and 1/3 reported it had reduced financial concerns a lot.
  • 50% felt that they were paying about the same as before (even with the increase in energy prices.
  • 20% felt that their energy bills were a little bit more expensive.
  • Most commented that they were heating the flat for longer for the same cost.

Prior to installation – on average there was slight agreement that customers worried about paying fuel bills, and they have the heating on lower or less often than they’d like so their bills weren’t too high. All these concerns had reduced markedly by the end of the study for the group.

Most residents in the group said they felt more in control of their energy bills, though on a whole they neither agreed nor disagreed that they’d seen savings on their energy payments or reduced unnecessary heating, and few said they’d specifically tried to save energy/money on energy.

Summary of findings

Energy consumption

Current clamp and sub-meter monitoring of heating energy usage shows that properties used less energy for heating – and a lower proportion of total energy use. Only 70% of properties were able to provide energy consumption beforehand. Most properties with the exception of T-04 T-02 and T-52 were noted to be under using the heating in the “before” period.

“After” period highlights that all properties are heating to their own thermal comfort levels, some outliers with T03 and T19 should be omitted due to an evident non-use of heating before vs usage after. Customers for the first time were given control over when and wherein the properties they wanted to be warm and have hot water.

On average we see a small 2.83% in cost-saving due to the imbalance of information before and after, but some positive results were found in T-04 and T52 who regularly used heating before and after.

Property T-04 as an example:

30.11.16 – 24.06.18 a period of 206 days prior to installation of Enviroheat Products recorded an energy consumption over 5531 degree days of 1438.9 kWh. An average of 3.884 kWh per degree day. Annual costs of £1390.29. Averaging 26.85 kw/day

Results after installation

07.11.17 – 21.06.18 a period of 226 days post-installation of Enviroheat Products recorded an energy consumption over 4231.0 degree days of 1823.4 kWh. An average of 2.320 kWh per degree day. Annual costs of £786.92. Averaging 18.72 kw/day

Cost-saving £603.37 a 43.4% reduction in billing.


Thermal Comfort and Controllability

All but one property, V-06, achieved the 18-21°C recommended temperature range for comfort and good health before installation, and all did after the new heating was installed.

  • Residents’ feedback indicated a marked improvement in comfort, with numbers saying they could keep comfortably warm at home increasing from 20% of properties initially interviewed in the group, up to 100% at the end of the study.
  • Numbers reporting they needed to wear additional warm clothes in the home to keep warm enough decreased from 70% to only 30% by the end of the study.
  • 50% of the group said they could now heat and/or comfortably use more of the flat.
  • Before the new heating, 30% had only heated one room, and 20% rarely heated the flat at all. Only 30% heated most rooms, but none heated the whole flat. By the end of the study, whilst 30% still reported heating only the living room, none used no heating, and 40% stated they could now heat the whole flat.
  • The households did not have thermostats previously so residents’ prior ideas of their heating temperatures would not be accurate. At the end of the study, 100% of the group said they heated their flat to 18-21°C or higher (7 to over 21°C).
  • Daily supplementary heating use decreased from 12 of the 20 households (7 of these instead of storage heaters) to 20%, who used it only briefly to heat rooms quickly on getting up / bathing children.

Notable benefits identified included:

  • The heating being easier to use / control, the flat being warmer and more comfortable, and the new radiators looking better than the old ones.
  • 80% of the group also felt that their home kept the heat in better – as no insulation work was done, we believe this question was interpreted as being able to have heat later in the evening than was previously possible.
  • Many said the new heating improved the quality of the home, and the house got warmer faster.
  • Parents of young children commented that the new heaters were cooler to the touch than the old storage heaters – less likely to burn children – so safer to use.
  • Residents’ behaviour also changed – few previously adjusted the controls of their storage heaters, but after the new heating, 90% adjusted the heater controls if they were too hot/cold rather than putting on/taking off clothes or opening windows.
  • 40% of residents felt their hot water use was easier / better than previously, and 40% felt it was the same as before (20% did not answer).
  • 66% of households in the group who had previously suffered damp/mould issues said it was improved.
  • Satisfaction with all aspects of the heating improved, particularly relating to how much control they had over the heating and how easy it was to use, both very low previously.
  • In many aspects, satisfaction increased above the control group levels – for the new heating systems in the amount of control over their heating, and for the cost of running the system.

The group is now on average satisfied with how warm their flat gets when it’s cold outside, how easy the system is to use, and how well the home keeps the heat in.

In terms of ease of use, most householders felt the new heaters were easier to use than their old ones, knew as much as they needed to about how the system worked, and how best to use it. They only slightly agreed that it didn’t require too much input, as most were actively turning the heating on and off as needed.

Installation

Enviroheat installations didn’t take long, most properties only took 1 day with customers still living in the property.

  • Residents’ views about the organization of the project were generally good, agreeing that installers were careful and respectful, they were told in advance when installers were coming and had been given all the info needed before they agreed to take part.
  • The group also agreed that they were kept informed of any delays or changes, and they’d been given details of a contact for any issues.
  • For support needs, most in the group agreed that they were clearly shown how to use the system, and received a manual / guide, knew who to contact about any issues, and received prompt & effective support if needed.
  • Despite one householder being unsure if they’d received paper instructions, 100% felt they knew how to control their system.
  • Most in the group were aware that they should switch to a flat rate tariff and had done so (some discovered they were already on one), with some requesting support to do this, but 2 residents were found to still be on an Economy 7 tariff at the final interview.
  • One was assisted to switch to a flat rate at that time, the other was referred to WHG for this support.Perception of running cost

By the end of the study

  • 30% of the households felt that their bills were cheaper, of this 30% 2/3 said this had reduced their money worries a little, and 1/3 reported it had reduced financial concerns a lot.
  • 50% felt that they were paying about the same as before (even with the increase in energy prices.
  • 20% felt that their energy bills were a little bit more expensive.
  • Most commented that they were heating the flat for longer for the same cost.

Prior to installation – on average there was slight agreement that customers worried about paying fuel bills, and they have the heating on lower or less often than they’d like so their bills weren’t too high. All these concerns had reduced markedly by the end of the study for the group.

Most residents in the group said they felt more in control of their energy bills, though on a whole they neither agreed nor disagreed that they’d seen savings on their energy payments or reduced unnecessary heating, and few said they’d specifically tried to save energy/money on energy.



Contact

  • Head Office:

    Unit 8D Mackenzie Industrial Estate, Cheadle Heath, Stockport, SK3 0RT

  • Collections:
    Unit 11 Longfield Farm, Hall Moss Lane, Bramhall SK7 1RB
  • Tel:
    +44(0)161 439 8265
  • Email:
    info@enviroheathet.com

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