What Hastoe’s doing to tackle fuel poverty?

3 December 2021

Our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable, energy-efficient homes to help ensure rural communities remain sustainable. With cost of living rising and energy prices soaring, fuel poverty is a growing issue. The price of energy has increased by £235 compared to this time last winter, so while everyone should have the right to a warm home this winter, more than 4.5 million households will struggle to fund the rising costs of energy.

To raise awareness of this, we’re supporting Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, an annual campaign coordinated by National Energy Action to raise awareness of fuel poverty and the impact it has across the UK.  With over 13% of people in rural areas living in fuel poverty, it is only logical that an association with a rural focus should build homes that are highly energy-efficient and have lower running costs for residents.

A household is considered to be experiencing fuel poverty when they spend a large proportion of their income on keeping their home at a reasonable temperature. There are three factors that impact fuel poverty: a household’s total income, their energy consumption and their fuel costs.

What are we doing to tackle fuel poverty?

Hastoe has a long history of building high-quality, energy-efficient homes and we have no plans to rest on our laurels.  We were the first rural housing association in the UK to build Passivhaus homes, starting with Wimbish in Essex. Passivhaus uses minimal energy for heating and cooling homes, whilst providing a comfortable environment. Much of the heating in a Passivhaus home comes from ‘passive’ sources such as the sun, appliances and people. This means heating bills of these homes are typically around 10% of a similar-sized house. Having built over 100 Passivhaus homes to date, we've got plenty of residents who benefit from these types of builds.

The utility bill savings in comparison to my old flat are substantial. The gas bill is minimal – mostly just the standing charges. I cannot remember the last time I actually paid for using gas.”

Fiona lives in a one bedroom Passivhaus flat

Since then, we have built many homes to Passivhaus standard and aim to have at least one Passivhaus scheme in development at all times. However, the specialist materials and technologies required to do this can be costly, which is why back in April we launched our New-Build Standard.

“Our Hastoe New-Build Standard takes the best of Passivhaus, adapted for delivery within current financial constraints", says Development Director Ulrike Maccariello. "We focus on traditional, and therefore more cost-effective, building methods that help achieve a similar standard of energy-efficiency.” 

Our ‘fabric first’ approach maximises energy performance and provides value for money. We use high levels of wall, loft and floor insulation, combined with high-performing windows and doors. We also take care to prevent thermal bridging during both design and construction phases and ensure air tightness, avoiding uncontrolled heat loss through the use of tapes and membranes. All of these factors mean our homes reduce energy demand whilst maintaining comfort. This is key to building homes the Hastoe way.

“First and foremost, it’s the people who will live in our homes who are at the heart of the Standard. We want them to be able to afford to live comfortably and without facing increasing fuel bills. To ensure our properties are really energy-efficient, we focus on a fabric-first approach that prioritises high levels of insulation alongside high-performing windows and doors in our homes.” Chris Parsons, Hastoe Board member

Not only are we building energy-efficient homes, our free Benefit and Welfare service is always on hand to help residents review their energy costs and, if needed, switch providers to make sure they’re getting the best deals and cheapest tariffs 

We’ve also urged the Government to go further in addressing demand reduction through increased efficiency in new, affordable homes, particularly in terms of fabric energy-efficiency, air tightness and ventilation. This is because we know homes built like this really do make a difference to our residents’ lives.

For us the benefit of living in a Hastoe home is it’s very economic and incredibly cheap to run. No matter what energy provider you’re with the cost is always low, so it’s really a really affordable house to run, which is so beneficial to us.”

Nicola and Joe live in a one-bedroom flat in East Sussex
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