As part of Wales Climate Week, the Optimised Retrofit pathway project has released three short documentary films featuring residents who have had retrofit measures installed in their homes sharing their experience.

The films feature Susan Wilson, a retired grandmother from Colwyn Bay, as well as Lisa Newton from Merthyr Tydfil who has had solar panels, a smart meter and battery storage installed in her home.

Both are looking forward to enjoying lower energy bills and contributing less carbon to protect the future for their children and grandchildren.

The Optimised Retrofit pathway project, one of several social housing retrofit projects funded by Welsh Government, is a collaboration of 68 partners managed by Sero, including 26 social housing providers, which will see the decarbonisation of more than 1,700 homes, as well as the creation of the digital tools required to roll out a large-scale decarbonisation of homes across Wales and beyond.

ClwydAlyn resident Susan said:
“Energy poverty, fuel poverty, food poverty and anything that helps to save the environment is high on the agenda for me. I’ve got several grandchildren, so it’s not just about my future, it’s about safeguarding the planet for their future and their children’s future.

“When I was approached and asked about having decarbonisation technologies installed in my home, I thought it would cost me a fortune. However, ClwydAlyn explained that the project was fully funded and supported by Welsh Government, so wouldn’t cost me a penny, but could actually save me money in the long run, while also helping the environment. I thought it sounded fantastic.”

Susan had an Intelligent Energy System (IES) installed in her home, as well as having a detailed whole home survey carried out using the Sero digital capture survey app earlier this year. The data is then analysed to determine the best retrofit measures for the property with a view to making it net zero by the earliest possible date, and a digital building passport is created for each home to log all this information.

David Lewis, executive director of asset management at ClwydAlyn added:
“ClwydAlyn is glad to be part of a scheme that will improve the energy efficiency of homes, reduce fuel bills and create a comfortable environment to live in all year round. This collaboration with Sero will be a great help in addressing some of the causes and impacts that affect our residents’ quality of life and will also play a part in helping us achieve our goal to beat poverty.

“The retrofit project will without doubt play its part in the reduction of output of CO2 here in Wales, offering more sustainable homes that will hopefully preserve the world we live in for the future generation.”

Talking on behalf of Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association, innovation and community development manager Lee Jones explained:
“As part of our ongoing commitment to decarbonising our homes and community Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association are delighted to be involved with the Optimised Retrofit project.

“The partnership between Welsh Government, Sero, Merthyr Housing and the wider social housing sector is providing a pathway which has the potential to significantly reduce the Carbon produced through living in our homes.

“With the climate emergency at the forefront of our thinking, Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association is providing services that improves the lives of those currently residing in our homes but also ensures a better future for those yet to come. This is the first step in realising our target of becoming a net zero organisation.”

The Optimised Retrofit pathway project has received £13m funding through the Welsh Government’s Optimised Retrofit Programme, part of the Innovative Housing Programme, established to help reduce the carbon footprint of existing social housing in Wales, make energy bills more manageable for residents and provide new job and training opportunities.

Andy Sutton, co-founder and chief innovation officer of Sero said:
“Off the back of COP26, we need to maintain momentum in our efforts to decarbonise all elements of our lives. Reducing the use of carbon within our homes is a key part of this, and therefore the Welsh Government’s Net Zero Wales plan and announcement of multi-year funding to continue to support the Optimised Retrofit Programme is very welcome.

“Our aim is to continue to build on the work showcased in these films to enable the roll out of optimised retrofit across Wales. This includes putting in place the digital tools needed to easily manage the process, raising awareness amongst residents about the need for retrofit, as well as by helping ensure the right skills and expertise are developed across Wales to enable the delivery of retrofit at the scale and pace needed.”

Looking to the future of Welsh Governments Optimised Retrofit project, Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters said:
“We are committed to spending an extra £150m to improve the energy efficiency of existing social homes in Wales through our Optimised Retrofit Programme, so it’s great to see Susan and Lisa benefitting from this already.

“Our investment will not only reduce emissions but will cut the energy bills of the people who live in them. And we are already trialling heat pumps, intelligent energy systems and solar panels with battery storage.

“We are taking a whole homes approach, which assesses what will work best in individual homes. The programme will see homes become so well insulated that heat would no longer wastefully escape.
“Our investment will help thousands more families be warm in their homes and support a just transition towards decarbonisation.”