Innovation is important to North West growth and regeneration group, Torus, who are always looking for new ways to improve homes and the lives of their tenants. That is why they are investing £163,000 to install innovative, eco-friendly, new-tech electrical water-filled heating systems into 36 apartments at Portland Gardens, over 55s independent living scheme in central Liverpool.
The project at Portland Gardens is one of five from Torus which will see the group investing £3.2 million into 337 of their existing homes to help reduce their carbon emissions. Supporting the Liverpool City Region (LCR) goal to become a zero-carbon city region by 2040, the projects will also benefit tenants by improving energy efficiency, reducing fuel bills, tackling fuel poverty and making their homes warmer. Other projects include; underfloor insulation installed by robots, External Wall Insulation (EWI) on three sites in North Liverpool.
The projects are part of the RetroFIT for the Future project, led by Sefton Council, which has been funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to retrospectively install low carbon solutions to homes to ensure they are future proof.
Torus Assets Project Manager, David Kelly, tells us more about the project and how it will benefit tenants;
“The £163,000 retrofit project at Portland Gardens is part of our ongoing commitment to invest in our existing homes. These improvements will not only help the environment by reducing carbon emissions, it will also help our tenants save money on their fuel bills be reducing costs and be able to enjoy warm, comfortable homes.
“Portland Gardens was selected for the project as it had old, unreliable expensive storage heaters needed replacing. The heating often ran out, which wasn’t pleasant for the residents, who understandably wanted something more reliable which offered more control over the heating and hot water in their own home.
“We didn’t want to replace like-for-like – we wanted to do something better – so we looked for a solution that would future proof the homes, was energy efficient, would reduce bills and meet the carbon neutral ambitions of the group and the Liverpool City Region.
“To achieve this we need to look to less traditional options and explore new technologies and innovative solutions. The innovative, eco-friendly, electrical water-filled heating systems fit the bill.”
Torus also had to consider working during the pandemic and limiting the disruption to their older tenants, both regarding access to heating and hot water while keeping everyone’s safety a priority. But another positive about the new electrical water-filled heating system is that the work to install the new system will also mean minimum disruption for the tenant, with local contractor and project partner, Liberty only needing two days to complete the work in each property.
“We are excited about the water-filled electric radiators and hope by investing in our homes, we can protect the people who live in them from high energy bills and fuel poverty, which is especially beneficial for the high proportion of social tenants who are on low incomes.
“Tenants will benefit from being able to control their own heating and only pay for what they use, as they currently all pay the same service charge. We will also be supporting tenants to get used to their new individual bills, just in case it has an impact on their budget.
“The innovative and efficient radiators are a trial for Torus and once it is completed and had time to settle in, we are looking forward to seeing the results for both financial saving for tenants and the reduction of carbon emissions for the environment.”
Established by the European Union, ERDF helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding
The Portland Gardens pilot project is expected to be completed by Christmas 2020. Its success and impact, along with that of the other RetroFIT projects, will be used to shape future retrofitting projects and to support future adoption of innovative products into mainstream housing management programmes.