Around 200 homes across Oldham have been given major green makeovers to slash bills and make them more energy efficient as part of a trailblazing multi-million-pound retrofit programme to transform 3,800 properties across Greater Manchester.

The first wave of the forward-thinking scheme has benefitted First Choice Homes Oldham (FCHO) homes in Royton, Failsworth, Chadderton, Shaw and Oldham with a raft of eco improvements to make them warmer, cheaper to heat, more environmentally friendly, meet Net Zero targets and reduce household bills by up to 30%.

The recently completed year-long initial project in Oldham included:

  • 160 properties fitted with solar panels
  • 19 homes received loft insulation
  • 23 triple glazed windows and 8 insulated doors fitted

FCHO predicts households could see a 30% reduction on their energy bills and save a combined 225 tonnes of carbon per year going forward – the equivalent of planting 9,000 trees a year to offset emissions.

First Choice Homes Oldham, responsible for more than 11,300 homes, will be contributing £3.4m into the scheme on top of the £2.8m it received through both Wave 1 and Wave 2 of the government’s Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF). This makes it the third largest SHDF programme across Greater Manchester.

Home energy performance surveys to a further 700 homes across the borough are currently underway, these will determine the eligibility for homes for funding made available in the future. Funding in the future may include loft insulation, triple-glazed windows and doors, solar panels and low energy lighting.

The SHDF works are part of wider efforts by Greater Manchester Combined Authority and their registered provider partners to improve the energy efficiency of social homes across the city region.

The first wave of makeovers, delivered by contractor Connolly Ltd throughout 2023, means they all now have a minimum C band energy performance certificate (EPC) – a standard the government is encouraging landlords to work towards where possible.

Delighted residents include Mary Clancy, age 60, a FCHO customer for 36 years, who says since having solar panels installed at her semi-detached home in Chadderton as part of the project her energy bills reduced with her electricity costs halved.

First Choice Homes Oldham resident Mary Clancy
First Choice Homes Oldham resident Mary Clancy

She said: “It’s been a lot better energy wise. I get most of my things done through the day and it’s halved what I spent on electricity.

“It’s good for the environment too and I’m glad I had it done because it’s saving a lot of money.”

Measures were carefully tailored to the needs of each home involved in the project, to make the biggest impact on energy consumption.

The scheme of green upgrades will go towards achieving the sustainability targets FCHO set in its Big Plan and Sustainability Strategy.

The homes are the first of 3,800 existing FCHO properties to undergo retrofit work between 2023 and 2028 to make them more energy efficient and help the housing association achieve its ambitious net zero targets.

Drone view of First Choice Homes Oldham Solar PV
View of First Choice Homes Oldham Solar PV

Steve Mather, FCHO Executive Director of Homes, said: “Working towards net zero generates a range of opportunities for customers and the communities we serve by lowering energy bills and reducing fuel poverty within our neighbourhoods.

“We’ll see more jobs created, the opportunity for local people to gain new skills and for local contractors to deliver our investment programme. It’ll be great for the economy, great for FCHO and great for our customers as part of our commitment to upgrade 3,800 homes.”

Simon Harrison, Managing Director at Connolly Ltd, said: “We are proud to be working in partnership with FCHO to improve the energy performance of its homes and reduce the impact its customers face with rising energy costs. It’s a fantastic opportunity for our business to make a difference in the local community, whilst delivering upgrades to customers’ homes.”

The SHDF project is part of wider efforts by Greater Manchester Combined Authority and their registered provider partners to improve the energy efficiency of social homes across the city region. Over 6,000 of the region’s social homes are receiving upgrades totalling £113m, following GMCA securing almost £45m grant funding from the first two waves of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, with a further £68m in match funding provided by local partners.  GMCA Project Manager Michael Ramsey, provides further information in his blog.

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