Making homes warmer boosts community pride

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Making homes more energy efficient makes people more proud of their communities, a study by Sheffield University has found.

University researchers have been involved with the £7 million Big Energy Upgrade programme, which has given efficiency makeovers to homes in South and West Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

The scheme has worked for the last three years on a ‘whole house, whole community’ basis, concentrating on some of the region’s deprived estates.

European funding has paid for double glazing and door and boiler upgrades, while the university team has been investigating its effectiveness.

More than 250 residents were surveyed after their homes had energy-efficient measures installed.

Many rented their homes from council-owned housing associations and were spending more than a third of their household income on fuel.

The response showed broader social benefits such as a growing sense of community cohesion and pride since taking part in the scheme.

A series of customer focus groups helped highlight the fact that the visual impact of energy improvements, such as external insulation, has helped boost confidence and admiration for areas that have historically been considered undesirable neighbourhoods.

Professor Lenny Koh said: “Our research shows the project helped boost morale among tenants, created jobs and united public and private sector organisations.”