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Out with the old, in with the new for council bungalows

Modern energy-saving technology is being installed at a row of six council-owned bungalows in a Swansea community, in a bid to lower energy bills.

craig cefn parc homes

The six homes are on the edge of the Craig Cefn Parc community, near Clydach and, until now, have used LPG, oil and electricity to heat their homes, including heating and hot water.

Swansea Council has now teamed up with Cardiff University's Welsh School of Architecture to trial a 'Homes as Power Stations' project, utilising greener power sources at each property.

The 'retrofit' scheme will combine traditional refurbishment work with new technology, transforming them into some of the most modern, comfortable and cheap to run homes in the city.

Each of the bungalows will be fitted with solar panels that generate electricity. This electricity will be used and stored in a battery at the home to reduce electricity needed from the grid. New heating systems will also be installed that will be powered by electricity and which can be operated and monitored from smart phone apps.

The cost of the modern, environmentally-friendly technology is funded from a £2.5 million grant at the Welsh School of Architecture at Cardiff University to take forward affordable low carbon technologies in the built environment in Wales.  The investment is part of a £26 million EU funded project - SPECIFIC, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Welsh Government, and also by InnovateUK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Alongside the installation of low energy technology, the Council is also carrying out more traditional refurbishment work which includes renewing roof coverings, and installing external wall insulation to reduce heat loss.

Andrea Lewis, Cabinet Member for Homes and Energy, said: ""We have identified a small number of homes that we feel are ideal for trialling retrofitting the 'homes as power stations' concept. It means the properties are being converted into homes that will generate clean, green energy using solar panels and benefiting from battery storage.

"The more traditional refurbishment work the Council is carrying out will mean the homes will also be warmer, leading to significantly lower energy bills for the tenants."

Dr Joanne Patterson, Research Fellow at the Welsh School of Architecture, who is leading the project for Cardiff University said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for all staff involved in the long term maintenance of existing homes at Swansea Council to learn about new technologies available to reduce energy use in homes and to understand how those involved in the building sector need to work together with the householders to provide comfortable and environmentally friendly homes'.

The latest work follows on from the completion of 18 new 'passivhaus' homes at Colliers Way, Blaenymaes. The homes, which are the first to be built by Swansea Council in a generation, are all designed to be energy efficient, requiring less heating than traditional homes.

Further plans are in place to build even more homes. A total of 34 houses, developed as 'Homes as Power Stations' are planned - 16 at Parc yr Helyg, Birchgrove and a further 18 as part of phase two of the Colliers Way development. The plans have been made possible following confirmation of a £1.5 million grant from the Welsh Government's Innovative Housing Programme (IHP). 

Cllr Lewis added: "These are very exciting times for the Council in terms of our ambitions to develop modern new homes in the city for our tenants."

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