Residents in 273 high-rise flats in Thurrock will see significant savings in their heating and hot water bills this winter due to the installation of energy-efficient Kensa ground source heat pumps, helping to remove many residents from fuel poverty.

Key facts: 

  • Residents heating and hot water bills cut by up to 66%
  • Reduction in fuel poverty
  • Ground source heat pumps installed in tower blocks
  • 300% efficient GSHPs compared to 100% efficient storage heaters
  • 3 x tower blocks at Chadwell St Mary’s, Essex
  • 273 x Kensa ground source heat pumps
  • Local green jobs created
  • Replacing direct electric storage heaters
  • Largest GSHP project funded by SHDF to date

Kensa has replaced old, inefficient night storage heaters with small, super-efficient Kensa ground source heat pumps and Sunamp heat batteries in three tower blocks in Chadwell St Mary’s owned by Thurrock Council.

Residents in the two-bed flats will be shielded from future price rises this winter and reap additional savings of up to 66% on their heating and hot water bills by replacing the old storage heaters with 300% efficient ground source heat pumps.

Installing Kensa ground source heat pumps will save residents money and provide energy security and resilience against rising fuel prices. It has also brought residents together as a community, improving their physical and mental well-being and protecting them from the threat of fuel poverty.

Diane Barr, a resident from Thurrock, stated:

After 16 years of living here with an outdated Economy 7 heating system, I am so happy to have a low-cost, energy-efficient heat pump; it has made a big difference. The heating before was a big expense, and we all dreaded the winter months.

The heat pump is much warmer, and the hot water is so fast compared to the old system. Plus it’s so cheap – I pay around £21 a week, and that’s with doing the washing, using the tumble-drier and dehumidifier. With the storage heaters, it cost around £70 a week, and I only used to have the heating on in three rooms, and the hot water ran out pretty quickly, so we couldn’t have a shower.

Housing officers at Thurrock Council undertook fuel poverty surveys with residents. Their research showed the actual levels of fuel poverty locally were much higher than reported through national statistics – this identified the urgent need to act. The council built a business case to rectify years of underinvestment in the old heating systems with the support of Kensa’s strategic partnerships team.

Thurrock Council secured £3.2 million from Wave 1 of the Government’s Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) to help finance the scheme and is the largest ground source heat pump retrofit project completed under the scheme. The SHDF, a £3.8 billion 2019 manifesto commitment, aims to support local authorities and social landlords to retrofit their housing stock at scale over 10 years.

An underused community room was made into a more inviting, warm space, refurbished and filled with donated items, including kids’ games, toys, and books, and kept well-heated by Thurrock Council. A community pantry has also been set up, offering in-date donated food items and surplus stock from local businesses. This has created social cohesion and a good community spirit among residents; any community events have already been run in the newly refurbished community space.

Cllr Barry Johnson, Thurrock Council Cabinet Member for Housing, said:

The old storage radiators and hot water systems in each one of the 273 flats were replaced with a significantly better, cost-effective and greener solution.

This is great news for our residents, and I would like to thank the government for awarding this funding and helping us better support our residents and tackle fuel poverty by driving down fuel bills and keeping our homes warmer and greener.

Ieman Barmaki, Sustainability Director for Kensa Contracting, said:

Kensa was delighted to work with Thurrock Council to support the community to transition to low-carbon heating inside their flats.

Ambitious, large-scale projects like this one undertaken by Thurrock Council are vital to meeting the Government’s targets of 600,000 heat pump installs per year by 2028. Over 80% of UK homes will still be in use in 2050, so existing buildings must undergo significant improvements. Ground source heat pump systems help housing providers protect their tenants from fuel poverty whilst lowering their environmental impact and future-proofing their assets.

As part of this initiative, we hope that the warm community room and food pantry will create a lasting legacy to alleviate some of the pressures associated with the cost of living increases.

If you would like to find out more about the project, Kensa are hosting a free webinar covering the project and key facts about Networked Heat Pumps.

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