EDF Energy has signed an agreement with UK-based ground source heat pump manufacturer and installer Kensa Heat Pumps to fund vital energy saving measures for social housing providers and their residents.

The industry first commitment sees a unique partnership that will provide funding support to housing associations and other registered social landlords across the UK to improve heating systems in existing homes, lower tenant energy costs and reduce carbon emissions in rural homes, away from the gas grid.

The partnership is a result of the Government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) – an initiative designed to help people in low-income areas save energy, thereby saving carbon and money on their energy bills.

Using an innovative approach to system design, Kensa and EDF Energy have already partnered on an ECO funded “Ground Source Heat Network” scheme for residents of Westward Housing in Holsworthy, North Devon. By extracting free, renewable energy from a series of communal borehole ground arrays, each approximately 100m deep, the Kensa “Shoebox” heat pumps located in each dwelling provide low cost heating and hot water, typically producing three kilowatt hours of heat energy for every kilowatt hour of electricity used to run the heat pump.

The Government’s ECO scheme was introduced at the beginning of 2013, and set energy suppliers with individual targets to deliver energy saving improvements to customers’ homes. The scheme focuses on benefitting vulnerable and low-income households as well as properties that are considered ‘hard-to-treat’. The agreement between Kensa and EDF Energy is thought to be the first of its kind to support the installation of “district” ground source heat pumps under the ECO scheme.

Eric Salomon, Energy Field Services Director at EDF Energy, said: “We are proud to be able to bring our ECO project funding to Devon. This specialist energy efficiency technology using a renewable heat source will make a significant difference to the lives of the local residents who will be able to benefit from lower fuel bills and much warmer homes. We look forward to continuing work with Kensa on this project, which will benefit many more households across the UK.”

Chris Davis, Commercial Director of Kensa Heat Pumps comments: “This exciting agreement offers a huge opportunity for social landlords across the country to address fuel poverty in their rural and off gas grid housing stock. Using Kensa’s “ground source heat network” approach, the ECO funding provided by EDF Energy will help offset capital installation costs, and when used in conjunction with the Non Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive will provide a long term income stream for the landlord, while significantly reducing heating costs for residents. I am delighted that EDF Energy has agreed to partner Kensa in this initiative.”

The work with Westward Housing was completed in late 2014 and there are plans to install further Ground Source Heat Network systems in up to 500 households throughout the UK this year, with a second tranche of installations progressing in Devon and other housing associations having commenced schemes in Shropshire and the East Midlands.

Kensa Heat Pumps and Westward Housing have produced a film of residents’ experiences during the first ECO funded project with EDF Energy, available on Kensa’s website at test.kensaheatpumps.com/video/westward-housing-tenant-tales .

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