A multi-million pound package of funding has been secured for a host of environmentally-friendly improvements to homes in a bid to tackle one of the biggest challenges in the battle against climate change in North Yorkshire.
A bid for funding from the Government has led to a windfall of £8 million being provided to boost energy efficiency in properties in some of the county’s districts which are worst affected by problems such as poor quality insulation.
Carbon dioxide emissions from homes in North Yorkshire ranks as the second highest after transport, and a concerted drive has been launched to bring in a raft of improvements in the county’s housing stock.
Officers have worked alongside colleagues in the district and borough authorities to secure the funding, which will be used to target homes in the Scarborough district as well as Hambleton and Ryedale.
The money will finance the introduction of a wide range of improvements from insulation and solar panels to air source heat pumps and high-heat retention electric storage heaters.
The scheme is also being introduced to help counter the cost of living crisis by providing residents with the opportunity to save money from their energy bills, which are at an all-time high with warnings that they will increase again in the winter.
Cllr Greg White, who is the executive member for both stronger communities and climate change, said: “If we are to reduce both fuel poverty and carbon dioxide emissions, we need to both radically improve home insulation and switch households to cleaner, sustainable and more energy efficient heating.
“This is a great opportunity for hard-pressed householders to get the necessary work done for free and for private landlords to access major discounts.”
Emissions from domestic properties in North Yorkshire are 1,058 kilotonnes carbondioxide equivalents (ktCO2e) in 2019, which equates to 23 per cent of total emissions.
There are particular issues in rural parts of North Yorkshire where homes often date back several centuries and remain energy inefficient.
The vast geographical spread of England’s largest county means that to co-ordinate a programme of energy efficiency upgrades to homes through sparsely populated countryside communities is both costly and difficult to co-ordinate.
Transport causes the greatest amount of emissions in the county and is responsible for 1,966 ktCO2e in 2019 – the equivalent of 43 per cent of total emissions.
The new scheme, which is called the North Yorkshire Home Efficiency Fund, is offering a range of fully-funded energy-saving home improvements to eligible homeowners.
The amount of funding available is up to £25,000 for each home, although most properties will receive upgrades up to the value of £10,000. As many as 500 homes are expected to benefit from the scheme.
Executive member for health and adult services, Cllr Michael Harrison, said: “This funding will not only provide a vital new stream of revenue for much-needed improvements to homes to help tackle carbon emissions and make the properties more energy efficient, but it will also help improve the health of residents.
“The improvements will mean homes are heated more efficiently allowing residents to be able to keep warm and ensuring energy bills do not escalate even further, freeing up household finances so that money is available, for instance, to provide decent meals.
“It has been a big team effort with our colleagues in the district and borough councils to secure the funding, and I would like to pay tribute to the collaborations.”
Tenants in privately rented homes are also able to apply, although landlords must contribute a third of the total costs of the improvements.
The property type will dictate the improvements that householders can receive, which could include insulation, solar panels, air source heat pumps and high heat retention electric storage heaters.
We are working with energy experts from YES Energy Solutions to help residents qualify for the scheme.
During the last financial year, YES Energy Solutions transformed the energy efficiency of more than 2,900 homes, cutting customer fuel bills by £36 million over the lifetime of the improvements installed.
To qualify for the new scheme, residents must have a household income of £30,000 or less, or receive means-tested benefits.
Properties must also be technically suitable for the measures available in the scheme and have a low energy efficiency rating.
We have intensified its efforts to tackle the causes and impacts of global warming and members of the executive have officially declared a climate emergency.
A new climate change strategy is being prepared to drive forward a host of measures to help dramatically reduce North Yorkshire’s carbon dioxide emissions.
Officers ourselves and district and borough councils are working on a draft of the strategy, which is set to be introduced after a new authority is launched to cover the whole of North Yorkshire on April 1 next year.
The plan of action will set out how the new North Yorkshire Council will develop work that is already under way to reduce harmful carbon emissions, which are responsible for climate change.
The initiative is set to increase the new authority’s ability to capture and store carbon, as well as placing a renewed emphasis on biodiversity and taking advantage of the huge natural resources across England’s largest county.
The new strategy is aimed at helping to achieve an ambition of the York and North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership that the region can become the first “carbon negative” area, helping the nation’s ultimate aim of achieving a net zero target for carbon emissions by 2050.