Watford Borough Council has ambitious plans to reach net-zero carbon by 2030. A large proportion of local emissions are from housing – much of which is older property stock – so we embarked on a whole-house approach to carbon reduction that would also help to reduce fuel poverty and improve the wellbeing of our residents.
Fuel poverty is a significant issue across the borough and cold homes exacerbate many health conditions and can even cause winter deaths. By insulating housing stock, we can reduce the burden on health care services and enable residents to live in warmer spaces that help support their health.
We offer grants and loans to implement residential energy efficiency measures and to create warmer and more comfortable homes. Works can include external wall, underfloor, and roof insulation, as well as smart heating controls and solar panels. The scheme is supported by government funding initiatives which we combine to allow us to reach and support as many people in our community as possible.
Initially, we focused outreach on a target area that had many of the same types of homes and where we knew we could make an immediate impact on energy efficiency. We carried out mail drops and marketing across the neighbourhood to connect with local residents. These were historic homes, with many features and brick detailing, so it was important to not only implement carbon reduction measures but to maintain the traditional look of the houses.
Watford Council partners with a fuel poverty charity called Better Housing Better Health, run by the National Energy Foundation, to manage the scheme. They offer a range of additional services to households, including free debt advice, application support, fuel switching, and information on other grants or schemes that residents may also be able to access.
Initial feedback from residents has been very positive, with most noticing an immediate difference in warmth and energy efficiency of their properties. The scheme has now been extended across Watford and we are committed to supporting as many households as possible to reduce carbon emissions and improve the wellbeing of our community.
Don’t overlook marketing – Marketing is crucial in reaching as many residents as possible. We combined the messaging and target areas of multiple government grants to deliver maximum exposure and generate substantial leads. We found direct mail drops to be very effective.
Develop local partnerships – Our partnership with Better Housing Better Health and local experts and contractors has been crucial in delivering the scheme successfully.
Understand your housing stock – When you’re working on similar homes across an area it’s important to learn lessons on what works in the same types of houses so these can be applied at scale.
Reduction in carbon emissions.