Saturday, July 20, 2024

New technology that provides personalised energy-saving retrofit advice

Aside from addressing climate change concerns, the need for energy-efficient homes is more crucial than ever given the ongoing cost of living crisis. With many householders, housing developers and installers keen to implement energy-saving measures but unsure how to get their projects started. Nicola Kennedy, CEO of Heero Technologies, explains the importance of having access to unbiased and bespoke information.

According to National Energy Action, the number of UK households in fuel poverty increased from around 4.5 million in October 2021 to 6.5 million in January 2024[i]. While the current energy price cap means costs have been reduced by 12% from 1 April 2024, those living in non-energy-efficient homes will pay more for gas and electricity. For example, those who live in EPC D-rated properties can expect to pay 15% more than those in EPC C-rated homes[ii].

Indeed, all kinds of properties can benefit from energy-efficiency retrofits, not just homes. However, when it comes to houses, those most in need will be older properties that were built before current building regulations and best practices began to take energy efficiency into account. These are more likely to have less effective insulation, and less efficient heating, as well as suffer from issues like porous brickwork, empty wall cavities, rendering weaknesses and draughts.

With energy-saving retrofits providing a clear means to reduce fuel poverty and there being an obvious impetus for homeowners and housing developers to implement them, getting projects off the ground has proved challenging. One of the main obstacles is getting hold of the right information. Those looking to retrofit can be overwhelmed by the multitude of renewable technologies and products now available, and they can be misled by biased marketing that poses as impartial, expert advice – often touting solutions that appear too good to be true. Faced with this confusion, many plans never start, with homeowners and housing developers remaining unsure about the best renewable products, government support and available financing and grant options.

Two common areas of misconception are the costs of installing energy efficiency upgrades and the amount of disruption or inconvenience the retrofit project will create. In both cases, people searching for answers will find polarised information that is extremely inaccurate, for example, some will say that government grants will cover most of the cost, while others will quote wildly expensive figures. The result is that homeowners are left with a lack of confidence and clarity. Indeed, according to an Ipsos survey for Barclays, more than a third of respondents shelve plans completely for this reason. 

Delivering the right advice

It is not just homeowners, housing developers and installers that need support on their retrofitting journey. Local authorities, housing associations, private landlords and holiday letters can also benefit from unbiased, expert and personalised information and advice that can help them achieve seamless and effective retrofits. But what kind of advice is required?

Of key importance is providing a clear understanding of the various energy efficiency measures available, and the benefits each of these can bring in terms of reducing energy consumption, cutting energy costs and minimising CO2 emissions. However, with every home being different, the information and advice need to be personalised and consistent. Only in this way can stakeholders be empowered to make informed decisions.

How new technology is helping

Traditionally, installers have been best placed to deliver personalised advice to those wanting to undertake a retrofit. Their hands-on experience means they can provide guidance about the various options and their potential suitability for individual properties regarding cost, timescale, disruption and benefits. However, considering the wide range of solutions, government schemes and financing options available today, even installers may find it challenging to provide fully accurate information.

With the Clean Tech industry eager to make this process clearer and more attractive to householders, the latest technology can play a pivotal role. Advanced software applications have now been developed that enable installers to guide clients through the entire energy-saving retrofit process. Providing personalised energy improvement insights and recommendations, the user-friendly App streamlines the process so it is less confusing. As a result, homeowners can access all the information needed to achieve a seamless, end-to-end retrofit, including the most beneficial energy efficiency measures for their home, the installation costs and how much they can save. Local authorities, housing associations and private landlords, meanwhile, can customise the app for their specific geographical locations, enabling them to access an extensive, pre-qualified installer network.

As the cost of an energy-saving retrofit is often one of the main obstacles, the latest software provides accurate, up-to-the-minute information on financing and installation. This includes sending alerts about new grants, finance offers and any changes of circumstance.

An empowering innovation

Overall, the latest energy-saving retrofit app enables homeowners to overcome many of the issues that prevent projects from getting completed. By assessing their home’s current energy-efficiency needs and providing agnostic, personalised and trusted recommendations, together with accurate costs, energy-savings and finance options, the App empowers them to make confident and fully informed choices.



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