Tackling fuel poverty should be a top priority for social housing providers

Richard Bishop, Head of Marketing for UK and Ireland at Panasonic Heating & Cooling Solutions, calls for social housing providers to tackle fuel poverty by collaborating to deliver more sustainable energy solutions for the homes of the future.

With cost of living rising, energy prices sky high, and the pandemic throwing the spotlight on the impact of health and well-being, social housing providers have a lot to consider.  The UK Governments targets to reach net zero must be met and we need to make the switch to cleaner energy solutions. Adopting more renewable heating solutions has never been more important. Manufacturers are addressing this issue by developing solutions that will not only deliver heating, hot water– and even cooling – from sustainable energy sources, but also have the added benefits of smart control, and in come cases, indoor air quality technologies.

In February, the Government announced a £3.8 billion investment through the ‘Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund’ helping to drive down energy bills and target those who need it most making their homes warmer, more comfortable and greener with wave one already underway[1]. The funding will be allocated to local authorities, who will then work with social housing providers, to roll out the scheme and will be encouraged to install upgrades to the least efficient homes first.

fuel poverty

However, in the short-term, housing association tenants are more at risk of being unable to afford to heat their homes effectively and efficiently following recent changes, which could lead to moisture, allowing polluted, damp air and mould to spread more easily when cooking, bathing and drying clothes indoors. This will not only lead to expensive repairs and remedial work for housing providers, but even more concerning is the effect and the consequences it could have on the health of the occupants.

With the new SAP10 regulations coming into force from 15th June 2022, housing providers and developers will need to ensure they are fully compliant and ready to switch to more renewable heating systems for their new build projects. Housing providers have a duty of care to their tenants and the homes they provide and harnessing the latest renewable technologies, such as air source heat pumps, to ensure that the spaces provided are healthy and affordable for its occupants is a must. Embracing the changes in renewable technology and allowing for a change in mindset will greatly impact the early design phase of all newbuilds. A small change can make a big difference and impact to someone’s future health and wellbeing.

Renowned for its continual R&D developments, Panasonic continues to introduce ground-breaking and innovative heating and cooling solutions. Panasonics wide range of Aquarea air source heat pumps is under constant review providing one of the best energy efficiency ratings on the market and proven reliability.

Panasonics extensive Aquarea heat pump range is designed to suit a multitude of property types, spanning from one-bedroom apartments to six-bedroom detached properties and all those in between.  The use of smart controls, such as Panasonic Smart Cloud and Service Cloud, means that estate managers, residents, and even heating engineers have the ability to remotely monitor and maintain systems, ensuring that the heating and hot water system will suit the individuals’ daily needs.

fuel poverty

Collaborative Technology: Heat Pumps and Boilers

Designed to offer a combination approach, Panasonic has developed the Aquarea Hybrid Eco+, an air source heat pump that can integrate and connect to work with any brand or type of combi or fossil fuelled boiler system in existing housing stock. Helping to reduce energy costs and save on carbon emissions by up to 80%[2], the system is an excellent interim solution able to provide an increased EPC rating on all homes, all whilst being a resourceful and eco-friendly solution. In the future, when the gas boiler may no longer be required, making the switch to a full Aquarea air source heat pump system will be an easy upgrade.

The Aquarea Hybrid Eco+ heat pump unit extracts its heat from the outside air. To maintain the desired internal temperature, the original boiler system is only activated when heating domestic hot water and supplying additional heating energy if required during colder weather. Furthermore, the Aquarea Hybrid Eco+ units’ main components are within the outside unit itself. These systems have been thoroughly tested and have been proven to provide one of the lowest sound ratings on the market but with one of the highest energy efficiency ratings of A+++, thus saving in energy and costs.

fuel povertySmart Remote Controls and Monitoring

Nowadays almost everything can be set up and controlled via your smartphone. So can the Panasonic Aquarea Hybrid Eco+ heat pump range.

Panasonic is ahead of its competitors in this area providing occupants and property owners with key technology to control the heating system remotely and from any device. With the Aquarea Smart Cloud, residents and facilities managers can view and monitor the status of the heating system remotely and adjust, if necessary, along with viewing performance, energy statistics and much more. The installer or service company can also support the system remotely using the Panasonic Service Cloud App to help maintain and monitor the system thus reducing costly maintenance visits.

A Panasonic Aquarea heat pump is an attractive alternative for property owners and housing associations. Panasonic is helping to meet the new demands and targets with a feasible and affordable solution for future sustainability.

Panasonic ensures personal health and the environment are at the forefront of its innovations, creating technologies that contribute to its philosophy of a better life and better world. See more information about Panasonic’s healthy air innovations visit the website for more details www.aircon.panasonic.eu/GB_en/ or email sales.PHVACUK@eu.panasonic.com

The long-term trends for energy supply in the UK mean that the drive for sustainable, electric heating will continue and the aim for social housing providers must be able to ensure that tenants are provided with housing which is fit for purpose, and affordable to live in. Manufacturers of these solutions are developing systems that are available now, are highly efficient and better controlled. Social housing providers now have the opportunity to embrace these new ways of thinking, not only for the present, but to deliver in the future too.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/social-housing-decarbonisation-fund-wave-1-successful-bids

[2] *SAP version 10.2 (20-08-2021) Table 12: Fuel prices, emission factors and primary energy factors. Heat Pump Efficiency - Panasonic WH-MDC05J3E5 (CoP A7/W35 = 5.57) Boiler efficiency 92%