Contact BHESCo

Call

01273 284470

0800 999 6671

Email

info@bhesco.co.uk

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

About BHESCo

BHESCo stands for Brighton and Hove Energy Services Co-operative.

It is a not-for-profit social enterprise that works with homes and businesses in Sussex to make energy more financially and environmentally sustainable.

BHESCo was founded in 2013 by our CEO Kayla Ente.

It completed its first four energy projects in 2015 following a successful launch of its initial community share offer.


BHESCo works with residents, businesses and community organisations to help them address the financial and environmental cost of their energy needs with clean, affordable, community-owned energy.

We offer services at no upfront cost by using ‘Pay As You Save’ financing. This enables property owners to make their buildings more sustainable and cheaper to run without needing to worry about burdensome costs.

Retrofitting basics

Structural changes to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of buildings, resulting in reduced household carbon emissions.

Warmer, more comfortable, homes that are cheaper to heat and less susceptible to damp and mould. Improving both physical and mental health.

Save money on your energy bills, future proof your home, increase value of your home, significantly reduce your carbon emissions.

Loft insulation, Cavity wall insulation, External wall insulation, Internal wall insulation, Heating & hot water controls, Double glazing, Draughtproofing (windows, doors, lofthatch), Underfloor  heating/ underfloor insulation, Solar panels, Heat pumps. 

30% of UK carbon emissions come from the housing sector (BEIS,2020). According to UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), for the government to reach its 2050 Net Zero target, two homes need to be retrofitted every minute.

Currently the scale of retrofitting is very low. A house-by-house approach will not provide the necessary scale of change. Therefore, the importance of designing a successful, scalable neighbourhood retrofit model that works for contractors and clients, with the vision for making retrofitting as affordable and accessible as possible is top priority, and we are the leading pioneers.

Carbon Neutral Communities Project Structure

Leadership to help guide you to making the right investment decisions for your home. Free solar power analysis to determine which houses in the neighbourhood are suitable for a solar electricity generation system. Five free energy saving surveys for a select few archetypal homes on the street. Street level planning and modelling. Coordination of bulk procurement of energy saving measures. Opportunity to join a whole street community solar programme. Project management of all works to be installed. Quality assurance of all works installed. Support accessing grants such as the Great British Insulation Scheme and ECO4. 

BHESCo applied for funding and won a grant from the Greater Southeast Net Zero Hub so they could make it as easy and accessible as possible for a community in the city to access a whole neighbourhood retrofit.

BHESCo’s vision is to create a successful and scalable neighbourhood retrofit model to be used across the UK. As this has never been done before they wanted to alleviate as much of the cost and hassle as possible for residents, therefore all project management and quality control will be done for free for our service users. These are highly valuable services that would add significant cost were you to undertake this independently without our programme.

The primary aim of the project is to install one or more retrofit measure in 100 households and to develop a community solar programme, that actively engages 50 households. With the intention of completing all works by July 2024. This strategic approach allows for the realization of a significant economy of scale, establishing a transformative model that can serve as a blueprint for neighbourhood-wide retrofit initiatives across Britain. 

The programme will run from January 2024 until September 2024. To access the final part of our grant funding, by March we must have the bulk of all of the households that would like to commit to installing their chosen measure or number of measures , so that we can start drafting a quote to send to our contractors.  

If you are contemplating doing energy efficiency works, or installing renewable energy in the future, then take advantage of this opportunity. Participating in the programme will help you to bring down costs and ensure quality assurance.

Working together as a community means you can leverage economies of scale to your advantage. Our intention is that installers will be saving money in their bulk procurement of materials, while winning lots of work all in one small geographical area. This means savings will be made, compared to doing it alone. BHESCo will also ensure that your measures are suitable to your home and applied in the correct way, with quality assessment at every step of the process delivered by our Retrofit Co-ordinator.

Yes, but be mindful that the building work is set to finish in July. Therefore, if you are interested in this work, we encourage you to sign up as soon as possible as this will help improve the effectiveness of the project and ensure we can get the best quotes possible from our contractors. 

Finance

You can either self-fund, apply for a low-cost loan from the Wave Community Bank, or if you are eligible, you can access government grants such as ECO4 and the Great British Insulation Scheme. You can find out more about these schemes by using the web application FairerWarmth. BHESCo will support the individuals with finding the best financing options for their personal circumstances.

Until August, BHESCo’s funding structure for this project includes a £45,000 grant from the Greater South East Net Zero Hub. This funding is allocated to cover staff wages working on the project, project management, quality assurance work during the building phase, costs associated with the four free energy surveys, and expenses related to promotional materials and the launch event. 

Unfortunately, the funding is insufficient for BHESCo to subsidize any additional work on behalf of the community beyond the specified activities. 

Each household will choose their own desired measures for the energy efficiency improvements through the FairerWarmth website. BHESCo will consolidate these per measure. The installers will prepare their quotation including costs per household. Once we know the numbers of homes that are committed to installing their measures, which we anticipate will create savings through bulk procurement, then we will be able to provide a quotation of costs and expected savings.

Depending on the pace of the project and uptake from the community, residents will make the payments to their contractors between June and July. 

Energy Surveys

No, you don’t. Every household participating in the programme will receive a menu of measures, regardless of whether they have undergone a free house survey or purchased one of the available energy assessment options. The project employs a Sampling Method, eliminating the necessity for each household to have its own energy efficiency assessment. 

The Sampling Method works by drawing conclusions about the best energy efficiency measures for all homes on a street or collection of neighbouring streets based on a survey of just a few archetypal properties when the houses are very similar. This approach ensures affordability and accessibility for as many households as possible. 

Whilst not required for program participation, investing in an energy efficiency survey is advisable as it provides long-term benefits for the time you own the property. 

Both the EPC survey and BHESCo energy assessment share the same survey methodology and input the same data into their programmes.

However, the BHESCo bespoke survey and report provides a more detailed analysis and discussion of home issues, suggesting specific measures, estimating cost and carbon savings, recommending a sequencing order for implementing improvement measures. A 30-minute call is included for further clarification. It is designed to be a guide to helping you improve the energy efficiency of your home. It will be useful for years to come.

Unlike the EPC, the BHESCo energy assessment (EA) is not lodged onto the government EPC website. This approach allows households to determine and install necessary measures before updating their EPC.

The slimmed-down BHESCo report, is still more comprehensive than an EPC report, but describes just 1 standard recommendation per improvement measure instead of a few more detailed options. None of the EAs are lodged onto the government EPC website, providing homeowners with the flexibility to implement changes before updating their EPC rating. 

The EPC report, is a legal energy efficiency document essential for households wishing to rent or sell their property and contains basic information with infographics. A valid EPC is required, with a higher rating enhancing a property’s market appeal. However, EPCs lack the in-depth discussion and localised detail found in the BHESCo bespoke EA.  

If you choose to buy one of the energy assessments, then you can do this at any time throughout the project. Prices and options are available on our Launch event page on our website.

Community energy programme - Solar PV

If your house is suitable, meaning that sufficient solar panels can be installed in a south, east or west facing aspect without shading or obstruction, it will be included in the package of retrofitting measures that each household will receive from BHESCo as part of this programme. The Solar Photovoltaic (PV) installation will be tailored to each individual house. Solar panels improve the value of your house by improving your EPC rating. The value of the electricity generated will help you to avoid volatile electricity prices due to global events, like the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

More detailed information about the solar component of the program will be provided once we have determined the number of households interested in pursuing Solar PV installation. This approach allows us to customise the solar solutions based on the specific needs and preferences of participating households. 

It depends on the terms of your mortgage, so it is best to check with your providers.  

BHESCo is here to support you with any questions regarding this, so do feel free to contact the office: info@bhesco.co.uk or 01273 284470.  

Roof orientation :
• South facing is most appropriate, but roofs oriented between East to West facing can still be appropriate.
• No North facing roofs.

Roof condition :
• Few or no obstacles on the roof (skylights, turrets, and roof vents).
• Little to no shading from : trees, power lines, chimneys and other properties.
• Roof large enough for 6 panels minimum. 2×3 on the array = 10m

Conservation area:
• Some of your properties are in conservation zones, although this has potential to slow down the installation process or be a hindrance in getting permission to install the panels, it is still worth expressing interest in this process. The more households in an area that are proposing to have solar on their roofs, the more likely the group application for permission will be successful.

Please note that this project is about maximising the solar power that can be generated on the roofs of the area. BHESCo is working out a way that would benefit the entire community regardless of where the solar panels are located.

Communications and community engagement throughout the project

Focus Group Engagement: Collaborative efforts with the focus group will extend over the coming weeks to actively engage with more community members. This will include discussions, and hands-on involvement to convey the project’s goals and the significance of Fairer Warmth. 

Website Accessibility: A comprehensive repository of all launch event information, such as recordings, presentations, and the FairerWarmth write-up, will be accessible on the project’s website.  

Email Communication: Attendees of the launch event will receive detailed emails containing all the information covered. These emails are designed to be shareable, enabling participants to distribute the content to neighbours and use it as a reference for further discussions.  

Neighbour-to-Neighbour Interaction: Encouraging all participants to personally engage with their neighbours is a key element. Residents are urged to explain their reasons for involvement, fostering grassroots understanding of the project within the community.  

Project Posters: BHESCo will provide posters for participants to display in their windows, indicating their active involvement in the project. This visual cue serves as a local marker and conversation starter within the community.  

Street Representatives: Assigned representatives from each street will conduct door-knocking campaigns using resources provided by BHESCo. These resources will equip representatives with the necessary information for successful and engaging conversations with their neighbours. 

Ultimately, the success of increased community engagement rests on the community itself. While BHESCo offers information and resources, the focus group and actively engaged community members will be the driving force behind successfully involving more neighbours in the program.

BHESCo will continue to hold face-to-face meetings with the focus group throughout the project, of which we have had two so far. If you are interested in getting involved with the focus group, then please contact BHESCo at info@bhesco.co.uk or 01273 284470.  

BHESCo will be sending out regular emails to all those who have signed up to Fairer Warmth, providing updates on the project’s progress, outlining the next steps, and seeking engagement when necessary. 

Are there any expertise, skills or connections that you can bring to the programme? If yes, we’d love to hear from you!

Additional project details

In 2022, BHESCo undertook a similar project to encourage residents on Hanover Street to install retrofit measures. Lessons learned from this experience have shaped the approach for this project that we have called “Carbon Neutral Communities”.

BHESCo recognised the importance of community engagement based on the lessons from the previous project. It was identified that a community needs a group of engaged individuals who can collectively interact with and motivate the rest of the community. In Hanover, the competition entry structure allowed one person to nominate their entire street without ensuring sufficient community interest beforehand. That champion had other obligations and could not devote the time to the community, leading to a lack of engagement, participaton and interest in the project.

Consequently, BHESCo spent significant time and resources attempting to engage the community, with limited success. The project became one that BHESCo was pushing onto the community rather than being community-driven, contrary to the intended project ethos. The current initiative aims to avoid these pitfalls and foster genuine community-driven participation.

As project managers, it is BHESCo’s responsibility to collaborate with vetted, qualitied local contractors. We are committed to ensuring the highest standard possible of industry partners. Our retrofit co-ordinators will work closely with these contractors throughout the project to verify the proficient installation of each retrofit measure. In case of any issues, our team will provide support to both contractors and residents. 

To foster collaboration and understanding, BHESCo is organising a contractor roundtable on Wednesday 24th of January. This event aims to engage contractors in discussions about their visions, needs, and insights for the project. Recognising that contractors are integral to the project’s success; we seek to create a model rooted in local contractor knowledge and experience.  

If you are a local contractor and would like to get involved in the project, please contact BHESCo: info@bhesco.co.uk  

It is essential for any household seeking to install loft insulation to ensure that their loft is clear before contractors start their work. Contractors may impose additional charges for clearing spaces, and it can also prolong the process. Thus, it is crucial to avoid this scenario as part of this project.  

 

Although loft storage arrangements are not currently planned, BHESCo is open to supporting the focus group if they choose to organise such an initiative, provided there is ample interest from the community. This collaborative approach ensures flexibility and responsiveness to community needs.   BHESCo has done this before creating a successful outcome for the homeowners.   

Members of the team working on Carbon Neutral Communities

Kayla Ente MBE – Project lead

Rebekah Fleming – Project support

Alec Evens – Project support

Dr. Tim Beecher –  Energy Efficiency Assessor

Nigel Bamford – Retrofit Co-Ordinator

Dan Curtis – Communications