‘Tea cosy’ homes boost health and wealth

A new development in Liverpool designed to cut fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions is also having a knock-on effect on residents’ health.

Riverside’s one-and-two bedroom apartments and bungalows on Maidford Road in Dovecot form the housing association’s pilot eco development.

Kevin Hubbard, Riverside’s Quality and Value Manager, said: “We are committed to improving the quality of our homes for our residents so we have effectively created a tea cosy effect through higher levels of insulation and draught-proofing. We have installed data readers in the homes so we can monitor their energy efficiency, the results of which will inform future developments.

“We adopted a dual approach to boosting energy efficiency and tackling fuel poverty, combining eco-system installation with advice to residents to ensure they get the best use from their boilers.

“Improving the energy efficiency of our properties not only cuts down our carbon footprint but more importantly reduces fuel poverty by helping our residents save money on their energy bills.”

The £4.6m development is expected to save its residents on average nearly £700 a year, compared to a standard house of a similar size.

Rhoda Wilkinson, Riverside’s Affordable Warmth Project Officer, said: “Some residents were sceptical at first because the system works best if it is managed by temperature rather than time. But our Affordable Warmth Officers worked with them to carefully explain how to use the equipment and they have been thrilled with the results.

“The cost of leaving the ventilation system on constantly is actually less than leaving a TV on standby and results in lower fuel bills. The combined gas and electricity for a two-bedroom bungalow in this development is an average of £350 a year, compared to £1019 for a typical two-bedroom bungalow.”

While it is important to eliminate draughts, it is also essential to maintain ventilation to avoid mould and damp so the homes are designed to keep heat in and moisture out. Subsequently, residents are reporting improved health with one resident, prone to chest infections as a symptom of suffering from emphysema, saying that she has suffered no respiratory illnesses since she moved there in December.

Another resident, Joanne, has been in her home for less than a month but can already feel the benefits.

She said: “I suffer from multiple mobility issues which worsen when it is cold and damp to the point where my limbs spasm. So it is vital to maintain a steady temperature.

“When I moved in, it was like all my Christmases had come at once. My body can detect damp a mile away but as soon as I walked in, the air felt fresher and drier.

“The other great thing about my new home is the space. Although it is not specifically designed for disabilities, the hallways are so big that I can do a full turn in my wheelchair and the doorways are wide enough for me to easily get my chair through.

“It’s also really light, which is great for me as I don’t get out much. The garden is a good size too so I’ve got a vegetable patch, which is my therapy.

“For somebody who is disabled, this ticks all the boxes. In the space of a few weeks, my quality of life has improved dramatically and I’ve got my independence back.”

Riverside’s commercial arm Prospect GB built the development in partnership with Liverpool City Council, which gifted the land to Riverside as part of its Mayoral pledge to deliver 5,000 new homes.

Councillor Frank Hont, Liverpool City Council cabinet member for housing, said: “This is an innovative development which is important on very many levels. Not only is it contributing to the Mayoral pledge on building houses in the city but it is cutting energy bills and helping the environment. And it is also providing healthier living spaces – so it is no wonder that residents are delighted with it.”


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