Patrick Thompson, the Operations Manager for Northern Ireland at the Energy Saving Trust, outlines how the organisation helps people save energy every day.
Housing data holds the key to a low carbon Northern Ireland
Our mission is to help people save energy every day. Through our work in Northern Ireland, we help energy suppliers, advice providers and public sector bodies understand and engage with their customers. Right across the UK we harness the power of data to help customers benefit from warmer, more efficient and comfortable homes.
Our data informs companies to help householders make decisions. These decisions range from whether solar panels are the right choice for their home, deciding whether they can benefit from renewable heat technologies or if they can save energy and money from a range of other energy saving measures.
There is no doubt that the drivers for energy efficiency are strong and getting stronger. The hallmarks of fuel poverty, energy bill volatility and cold homes are pushing us to recognise that besides behaviour change, improving housing energy efficiency is one of the most effective ways to improve health prospects, create local jobs, reduce energy bills and cut carbon emissions.
With 158,880 excess winter deaths in the UK over the last five years1 and many more avoidable winter hospitalisations, the economic and social costs of cold homes are significant and on the increase. Around 42 per cent of households here are in fuel poverty2, and many are in dispersed rural households. The single greatest tool for government action on health is energy efficiency improvements through targeted local delivery.
We need to understand our housing stock
But before we can learn how to become more energy efficient and less reliant on electricity, oil and gas we need to know the lay of the land.
To develop and deliver effective strategies for housing, health, economy and carbon, we need to know which measures are most relevant for which property and whether they are cost-effective for businesses and householders, so they can make the right investment relevant to their situation.
We have been collecting housing data for over 20 years and in developing our Home Analytics database for all of the 27 million addresses in Great Britain we have access to clear and comprehensive data to allow analysis at a granular level. In Northern Ireland there is now a real opportunity to develop a specific local database and create cost-effective ways to improve local homes.
This data and insight will remove barriers to finding the homes and communities that we should target with energy efficiency programmes, delivering support to those who need it most.
Home Analytics, through its overlaying of housing stock data, EPC information and socio-economic information can be used to model the potential, at street level for retrofitting insulation measures, target potential fuel poverty areas, and help create long term low-energy home improvements by integrating Ordnance Survey data for the likes of PV orientation.
Patrick Thompson is Operations Manager for Northern Ireland at Energy Saving Trust
For more information contact:
Phone: 028 9072 6006