Pioneering £135,000 boost for retrofitting Harrogate houses as Zero Carbon Harrogate links up with Harrogate College

Zero Carbon Harrogate has received grants totalling over £135,000 from Ofgem’s Energy Redress Scheme and the National Lottery’s ‘Together for our Planet’ fund for a major retrofit programme including training and engagement in the Harrogate District.

By Graham Chalmers
Monday, 21st February 2022, 11:49 am
Updated Monday, 21st February 2022, 11:50 am
Supporting the retrofitting of Harrogate houses - Fiona Jones, Zero Carbon Harrogate’s Retrofit Team Leader and Holly Hansen-Maughan, Partnerships and Development Manager at Harrogate College.
Supporting the retrofitting of Harrogate houses - Fiona Jones, Zero Carbon Harrogate’s Retrofit Team Leader and Holly Hansen-Maughan, Partnerships and Development Manager at Harrogate College.

The programme aims to reduce the climate impact from domestic energy use by accelerating the delivery of local retrofit services.

Home retrofit, or ‘retrofit’ for short, is the design and installation of energy saving measures in homes to make them warmer and reduce CO2 emissions. Retrofit can include all forms of home insulation, replacement windows and doors, draft proofing, upgrading ventilation and the installation of heat pumps. Heat pumps are an efficient, low carbon alternative to gas or oil for heating the home.

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Fiona Jones, Zero Carbon Harrogate’s Retrofit Team Leader, said, “We are absolutely delighted that both our applications were successful and that our programme was recognised as much needed for our district. This is a ground breaking programme and the first of its kind in the U.K.”

There are approximately 67,000 homes in the Harrogate District. In March 2020, an investigation from the BBC’s Shared Data Unit found that 70% of properties with an energy rating in the Harrogate Borough are rated D-G. To meet net zero targets there is an urgent need to improve the energy efficiency of these homes.

However, there is a lack of local tradespeople with the skills needed for whole house retrofits.

A Harrogate District Climate Change Coalition survey found 78% of residents agree that they would be prepared to make changes in order to reduce their carbon footprint. Yet local homeowners have found it difficult to access the retrofit services they need.

Chris Wilde from Yorkshire Energy Systems recently said, “We currently have 190 enquiries for low carbon installations and only five employees who can do the work. We expect the new Boiler Upgrade Scheme in 2022 will further boost demand in our area, which provides all homeowners with a non-means tested grant of £5,000 towards a heat pump.”

Zero Carbon Harrogate’s programme seeks to ensure the required skills are embedded in the district’s building industry through a comprehensive training programme, fully funded by the grant received from Energy Redress. Harrogate College have already started developing a curriculum to help deliver this, as well as other industry-related courses.

Holly Hansen-Maughan, Partnerships and Development Manager at Harrogate College said, “Harrogate College proudly supports Zero Carbon Harrogate’s initiative to kick-start the local retrofit industry, and futureproof our district’s builders and tradespeople by providing the training that’s needed.

"We are committed to upskilling people across our district and ensuring that new skills needed are embedded into the curriculum. We have already had a fantastic start to our retrofit training programme with an oversubscribed course in January on the ‘Foundations of Eco-Retrofit’, through People Powered Retrofit.

"New courses in Domestic Energy Assessment are also coming in March.”

Zero Carbon Harrogate’s new Retrofit Programme is due to begin in the next few months.

It will be led by a Retrofit Programme Manager, who will manage an effective engagement programme across the district on behalf of the charity.

Homeowners who have managed to start retrofitting their homes have so far been impressed with the results.

Local homeowner Bethany Clarke said, “Having an air source heat pump fitted to our property was important to us as a family, and not just to lower our carbon footprint. With young children and a baby, it’s important to us that our house is always warm, and an air source heat pump keeps our house at a constant warm temperature without increasing our bills. It’s far more efficient than a gas boiler.”

Other local homeowners Bill Rigby and Shan Oakes said, “We have tried in recent years to improve the energy performance of our ‘50s semi. It is like being on a journey, which may never be completed, but the improvements to our comfort and our energy bills have been worth it! People with knowledge and experience have been hard to find, so access for traders to skills improvement is vital.”

This is a new, four-day-per-week role, and applicants are encouraged to visit www.zerocarbonharrogate.org.uk or email [email protected] for more information (applications close on 24th March 2022).

The Retrofit Programme Manager will also advocate for best practice and high standards in the retrofit process. As well as tradespeople, a number of Retrofit Assessors and Coordinators will be trained to specify the work needed and supervise its progress, to ensure high standards of are met.

If you are a local homeowner and would like more information about how to get your house retrofitted and what funds are available, please email [email protected]

Zero Carbon Harrogate is a local charity, dedicated to making Harrogate District a net zero carbon community by 2030.

Energy Redress is a grant scheme for charities to deliver energy related projects that benefit people in England, Scotland and Wales. The scheme is administered by the Energy Saving Trust, who have been appointed by Ofgem to distribute payments from energy companies who may have breached rules.

Together for our Planet is a grant scheme from the National Lottery to support communities across the UK to take action on climate change.

Harrogate College is a local further education provider, committed to meeting the educational needs of the local community.