Cardiff FoE Highlight Home Heat Loss In Grangetown
Environmental group Cardiff Friends of the Earth use thermal imaging to highlight the combined cost of living and climate crises in Grangetown, Cardiff.
As part of the Warm This Winter campaign, members of Cardiff FoE have been out and about in Grangetown over the past few months conducting thermal surveys of residents’ homes to highlight problems of poor thermal efficiency in homes, a lack of government support for home insulation and the need for better access to cheap and renewable energy.
Friends of the Earth Cymru recently conducted an analysis identifying the top 100 coldest neighbourhoods in Wales with North Grangetown coming in the top three. The analysis found that homes in the coldest areas are the hardest to heat due to low energy efficiency ratings, making energy use and bills higher than average for people living in areas with typically lower levels of income.
Poor insulation and high energy prices have become significant issues following the war in Ukraine, which has pushed up the price of gas, highlighting our reliance on fossil fuels and contributing to the cost of living crisis that continues to grip households across the UK.
Cardiff FoE focused on Grangetown in their analysis to try and highlight these combined problems in order to underline the ongoing climate crisis.
The group advertised for volunteers to have free thermal imaging surveys via local organisations and meeting community members. The survey consisted of using a thermal imaging camera to capture cold spots on walls and highlight where energy was being lost; as well as taking measurements of the property to estimate the amount of energy that was being wasted through the lack of insulation.
Through the analysis the group established that across six of the surveyed properties, £3,029 could be saved each year with better home insulation. Not only this, but 40,971kwh were currently being wasted each year through walls and windows. This equates to a CO2 saving of 101 return car journeys from Cardiff to London.
Between £40 and £72 could be saved per month with improved home insulation across the surveyed homes, but many homeowners are unaware of how bad the problem might be in their home and what they might need to do.
More importantly, many homeowners are struggling to feed their families and pay their bills, let alone consider home insulation improvements.
“Our bills went from £120-£140 a month to £470 so we have to limit and use heating only when we absolutely need it and just wear extra layers to keep warm,” said Nirushan, one of the participating homeowners who were shocked by how much energy they were losing through their walls. Cardiff FoE worked out that Nirushan could save 2,155 kg Co2 each year and up to £885.
For each property that was surveyed, residents were sent the calculations of the properties efficiency, the images captured in their home and tips on how to make small changes to slightly improve the efficiency of their homes, however, more support is needed from experts in the field alongside financial support for the hardest hit.
Caption: Thermal imaging from Nirushan’s home
Without the ability to adapt homes which they do not own, renters in particular have an acute problem. Women Connect First, In partnership with the national grid have been assisting families in Cardiff who have been struggling with their energy costs.
"The energy price rise and cost of living challenges we have faced over the last year have found many families struggling to afford to heat their homes or even pay for basic items,” said Nasim Hersi, Energy Advisor at Women Connect First.
“The main concerns that frequently arose [with us] were energy debt and the struggle to heat their homes.”
“When introduced to Friends of the Earth’s project, our clients benefited greatly from finding out where in their homes they were losing heat. They felt well-informed, empowered and confident in how they might find solutions to save energy, prevent heat loss and reduce the amount of money spent."
It was estimated that by January 2023, 60.8% of households in Wales were going to be in fuel poverty (where over 10% of net income is spent on fuel), compared to only 14% in October 2021, according to the Child Poverty Action Group. One way we can reduce this ahead of next winter is by properly insulating our homes and stopping them leaking heat. This can only be done with appropriate Government funding.
This is why the group is supporting the Warm This Winter and United for Warm Homes campaigns. One of the demands is for an ambitious energy efficiency programme and you can sign Friends of the Earth’s petition for mass insulation here.
Other demands of the campaign are:
Emergency support for vulnerable households
A rapid scale-up of low-cost renewables
Free us from fossil fuels
All of which will free people from fuel poverty.
To find out more about Cardiff Friends of the Earth and how you can get involved in other similar projects, head to the website or email email@example.com. You can also follow the group on social media; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Cardiff FoE are also looking at ways to rent out their thermal imaging camera to others across Cardiff via Benthyg. Get in touch if you are interested in finding out more.
Low-cost tips for improving your home’s thermal efficiency:
Place a draught excluder at the bottom of doors.
Install a curtain in front of external doors.
Close curtains after sunset.
Close the door to unused rooms.
Turn off extractor fans when not in use.
Place a rug over exposed floorboards.
Do not obstruct radiators.
Install radiator reflector panels behind radiators.