A scheme aimed at slashing energy bills and cutting CO2 emissions is to be launched in County Durham.

The scheme – backed by £2.5 million of EU funding – hopes to do this by providing 220 homes with the latest green technology.

The project – entitled Solid Wall Insulation Innovation (SWIi) – is run by Durham County Council.

As part of the scheme, older properties – made of solid stone or brick – will be fitted with external wall insulation. The buildings will also have smart meters installed to monitor energy consumption.

Most north-east buildings constructed after 1920 have two walls, with a cavity between that can easily be filled with insulation.

However, many older buildings just have one solid wall and the only way to insulate these structures is to attach boards or sheets to the inside or outside of the wall.

A well-insulated home uses about 25% less energy than a poorly insulated one. This typically cuts the energy bills of residents by a quarter and helps the environment by reducing global warming.

Chris Mutumbwa, from Renshaw, said, “My wife and I live in a historic stone property with very thick walls and high ceilings. Our property is beautiful but expensive to heat.”

“When we heard the council was trialling an external insulation system that could exactly replicate our limestone house, we were delighted to take part.”

Staff from Durham University’s Durham Energy Institute will be monitoring the scheme. They will be checking the amount of energy used as well as the temperature and humidity of the properties taking part in the project.

They will also evaluate the benefits of the insulation and the smart meters and monitor the ways in which they change residents’ habits.

Providing warmer homes 2
Mr and Mrs Mutumbwa with Dr Hongjian Sun from the Durham Energy Institute

Durham County Council’s cabinet member for strategic housing and assets, Cllr Tanya Tucker, said, “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Durham University on this ground-breaking energy efficiency project.”

“The county has over 50,000 solid-wall, brick-and-stone-built homes, which are very difficult to keep warm without wall insulation. Through this project, we now have a system which is easier to install, affordable and looks great.”

Dr Hongjian Sun, from the Durham Energy Institute, said, “SWIi is a very exciting innovation project which will help Durham to move quickly to the era of high energy efficiency and reduced carbon footprints.”

To learn more about the Solid Wall Insulation Innovation project, please visit https://swiiproject.co.uk.

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