Home Energy Conservation Act (HECA) Report for Portsmouth City Council 2019-2024

The Home Energy Conservation Act (HECA) requires all local authorities (LAs) in England to submit reports to the Secretary of State demonstrating what energy conservation measures they have adopted to improve energy efficiency of residential accommodation within that LAs area. This covers measures to improve properties in the owner-occupier, private rented and social rented sectors. The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) uses data submitted through LAs HECA returns to inform policy thinking on energy efficiency, and to build an ongoing picture of local and national energy efficiency policy delivery.

Portsmouth City Council (PCC) are dedicated to improving the energy efficiency of all Portsmouth homes by offering several schemes and financial assistance to all tenure types, to reduce fuel poverty and reduce our carbon emissions concurrently.

Fuel Poverty and Carbon Reduction Strategies

PCC published a Climate Change Strategy (2030), which outlines the key strategic priority areas to tackle carbon emissions in the city of Portsmouth. These include:

  • Portsmouth City Council – to become a net zero organisation which leads by example by implementing climate-resilient, low carbon practices.
  • Travel and transport – greener and better connected journeys, and active, healthy lives.
  • Homes, buildings and other infrastructure – “future-fit” buildings through transformative actions to modify existing structures

PCC has also published a Energy and Water at Home Strategy (2020-2025) which covers the authority’s commitments to reducing the rate of fuel poverty in the city, increasing the EPC ratings of all domestic residential accommodation to a minimum of a D by 2025 and supporting and empowering those who are able to pay for energy efficiency measures to do so. The vision will be delivered through a series of objectives:

  • Ensure residents can take action to reduce energy and water costs and wastage
  • Ensure all homes meet a minimum EPC rating of D by 2025 where practicable
  • Lead the way in using new housing developments and refurbishments to minimise carbon emissions
  • Develop clean energy generation to reduce fuel poverty and reduce harmful emissions
  • Reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality
  • Maximise household incomes to exceed a minimum reasonable standard of living
  • Clearly communicate a comprehensive offer of assistance for residents

Portsmouth City Council's Energy Efficiency Schemes

PCC has several support mechanisms and schemes for those in residential accommodation in place:

Switched On Portsmouth

Online: www.switchedonportsmouth.co.uk is an online hub of support, advice, and direct access into grant funded schemes. The website contains information on energy efficiency, financial advice and hosts multiple online tools to provide bespoke energy efficiency and solar feasibility reports.

Over the phone: The Switched On Portsmouth team provide bespoke support to all tenures via a freephone advice line in partnership with local charity, the Environment Centre. Any Portsmouth resident can call the freephone to get quick answers to their energy queries, support with accessing grant funding or disputes with their energy supplier.

In person: The Switched On Portsmouth team have a strong presence in the local community, attending local events and groups and have engaged with over 3,000 residents every year. They also provide training on fuel poverty and the support available to internal and external frontline staff.

Social media: Switched On Portsmouth provides quick updates and shares useful information via Facebook, X (Twitter) and Instagram to reach as many residents as possible.

Warmer Homes Programme

PCC is the lead authority for a consortium of 23 neighbouring LAs in the South, South-East and beyond and has successfully secured over £90m in grant funding for these areas since 2019 through the Local Authority Delivery (LAD) and Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) schemes. Across the consortium, over 2,500 homes have received free energy efficiency upgrades, including 690 in Portsmouth. The scheme is available to Owner-Occupiers and Private Rented properties and subject to the scheme eligibility requirements, provides insulation, solar PV and low carbon heating solutions. Properties can receive as much as £38,000 worth of measures through the scheme, on a first come, first served basis.

In Partnership

Home visits: Residents across tenure can access a free home visit from a qualified energy advisor through our partnership with the Local Energy Advice Partnership (LEAP) scheme, administered by AgilityEco Services Ltd. The service offers a home visit where small energy efficiency measures are installed, advice is provided and onward referrals to organisations such as IncomeMAX and Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service are made.

Boiler repairs/replacements: Owner-Occupiers can receive an emergency boiler repair or replacement if they are in a no heat situation over the winter months, thanks to our partnership with the LEAP Boiler Replacement scheme.

Replacement White Goods: Residents across tenure can receive replacement energy efficient white goods such as washing machines, ovens and fridges if they are responsible for providing the white goods in their home and have an appliance that is over 8 years old.

Future Plans

In line with the Energy and Water at Home strategy, PCC plans to continue the implementation of all current schemes whilst it works to fill support gaps through new schemes and services to tackle fuel poverty and meet our net zero by 2030 target. The authority plans to support access into other funding streams such as the Energy Company Obligation by publishing an updated Statement of Intent to allow flexible applications into phase 4 of this funding.

Energy Efficiency Scheme Funding

Our schemes utilise various sources to provide their free service and fully funded measures:

Local Authority Delivery (LAD) Scheme

The LAD scheme was a central government funding initiative which aimed to raise the energy efficiency of low-income and low EPC rated homes (those with band D, E, F or G), delivering progress to reducing fuel poverty and meeting the UK’s commitment to net zero by 2050. The funding was made available to LAs and PCC secured £33.6 million to support the Warmer Homes Programme.

Home Upgrade Grant (HUG) Scheme

The HUG scheme is a central government funding initiative which aims to provide energy efficiency upgrades and low carbon heating to low income, low EPC rated off-gas homes via LAs. PCC have secured £57.7 million to date to support the Warmer Homes Programme.

Warm Homes Discount Industry Initiative (WHDII) Scheme

The WHDII scheme is funding secured through obligations on medium and larger energy suppliers to provide support to those who are living in or are at risk of living in fuel poverty. The LEAP home visits, boiler repairs and white good replacement schemes are funded via this scheme.

Energy Efficiency Scheme Outcomes

Since 2019, our programmes have provided multiple benefits to residents in Portsmouth and across the South East, alongside significant carbon emissions reductions. Through the Switched On Portsmouth service, we have achieved the below since 2019:

  • 127,418 visitors to the Switched On Portsmouth website, accessing energy saving advice and information.
  • 2,832 Calls to the freephone advice line service, providing bespoke energy support to all Portsmouth residents.
  • 7,271 residents engaged with face-to-face at community events.

Through our partnerships, we have been able to support more residents with home visits and smaller energy efficiency upgrades. These include:

  • 628 Local Energy Advice home visits from an impartial energy advisor, with 1,416 small free measures installed.
  • Over 180 referrals into IncomeMax to identify income not being claimed, with over £70,000 of new income identified.
  • Over 100 onwards referrals made to partners such as Citizens Advice and Hampshire Fire and Rescue.
  • Over 75 boiler repairs and replacements provided to owner occupiers in an emergency no heat situation.
  • 96 energy efficient white goods such as ovens and fridges provided to households with old, inefficient units.

Our Warmer Homes Programme has had great success since the launch in 2019. Key outcomes for Portsmouth include:

  • 690 larger energy efficiency upgrades installed, including 511 solar PV systems, 110 different insulation installations and 5 low carbon Air Source Heat Pumps.
  • Resulted in energy savings of 1,130,481kWh to date – equivalent to powering an LED lightbulb for 312,872 years.
  • Produced carbon savings of 217,188kgCo2 to date. That’s equivalent to removing 131 petrol cars from the road every year..
  • Provided to date bill savings of £255,416, with further savings to be realised year on year.
  • 1,429kWp installed capacity of solar PV – that’s the same number of solar panels as installed on nearly 12 international space stations.
  • Installed solar generation of 2,416,246kWh to date, providing enough green energy to charge your mobile phone for 1,344,943 years. With a system lifespan of 25 years, further green energy will be produced for many years to come.

All of these recorded outcomes cover Portsmouth only, though the Warmer Homes scheme has provided further installations across the South-East which will have reduced emissions and improved energy bills for further low-income households.

In line with the Council’s Energy and Water at Home Strategy, our Energy Efficiency schemes support the creation of green jobs, the alleviation of fuel poverty, the improvement of the health of residents and the reduction of carbon emissions.

Fuel Poverty Identification

To ensure we reach all households that are considered fuel poor, we use a variety of data to inform our communications approach. This includes Energy Performance Certification (EPC) data and income data via Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) datasets or assumed average incomes via Office of National Statistics (ONS) data. This helps us to identify households with a low energy efficiency rating and a low income, which assumes fuel poverty.

We utilise other sources of data to target households with specific funded measures they could be eligible and technically suitable for. This includes satellite imagery to assess roof spaces, access and space and solar irradiance data across roof areas to calculate potential solar generation

Alongside our direct marketing approach based on data, Portsmouth City Council run multiple campaigns to encourage residents to reach out for support. Led through our Switched On Portsmouth brand, we distribute collateral, attend events and run social media campaigns. Every single household in Portsmouth has had a Switched On Portsmouth leaflet posted through their door, and the city is has had posters, lamp post banners, billboards and bus advertisements publishing the brand.

Portsmouth City Council’s Cost of Living hub, which was launched in response to the cost of living crisis provides another route to identify of fuel poor households.

Able to Pay

Portsmouth City Council aim to support all domestic homes, including those who might have the resources to pay for energy efficiency measures to upgrade their home where they are not eligible for the grant funded schemes available. This includes information and advice made available through two innovative online webtools:

  1. Our Switched On Homes online tool provides households with a simplified breakdown of their Energy Performance Certificate, providing information on how to reduce their carbon emissions and energy bills through suggested measures. The tool suggests installation costs, payback times and the impact on their carbon emissions over the lifetime of the measure. For properties without an EPC (~50% of UK households), an assumed EPC is generated based on known property characteristics and neighbouring properties. The tool also links to available funding sources, approved installers, and further information.
  2. Our Switched On Solar tool provides households with a bespoke solar feasibility report, utilising solar irradiance data alongside satellite images to provide a best estimate of how many panels could be installed and what the likely electricity generation will be. This is included alongside predicted installation costs to provide a payback period, and has links to approved installers, funding sources and further information.

Further developing the able to pay offer, Portsmouth City Council donated a thermal imaging camera to the ‘Library of Things’ and provides regular training seminars on how to use the camera to identify areas that need improving within a building. Residents can rent the camera for a suggested donation to assess the thermal efficiency of their home – Portsmouth Library of Things: Thermal Imaging Camera (MIS022) (myturn.com)

Local Green Supply chains

PCC recognise the skills gap required to be rectified to be able to transition to low carbon heating; installers working on PCC’s LAD and HUG schemes have been provided with additional support to develop their skillsets, qualifications, and certifications to transition from fossil fuel heating to delivering low carbon heating through the scheme delivery partner, AgilityEco. As part of our contracts with AgilityEco, they must focus on bringing local SMEs on board these grant funded schemes.

Residents can access lists of approved local installers for solar PV through our Switched On Portsmouth website. This aims to provide additional work for local and small installers who have been checked to be compliant with all certification requirements, insurances and quality assurances.

Portsmouth City Council created their own Solar PV procurement framework to support local installers to deliver PV measures in local authority areas ranging from Hampshire, Dorset, Sussex, Surrrey, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. Over £22 million of works have been put through the framework so far, including 2 of the largest solar PV installations that PCC have installed:

  • Portsmouth International Port – 5MWp of roof top and car park canopy solar PV
  • Lakeside Business Park – 2MWp of roof top and car park canopy solar PV.

Energy Company Obligation 3

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is a government energy efficiency scheme to tackle fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions. It works by placing an obligation on medium and large energy suppliers to promote measures that improves the ability of low income, fuel poor and vulnerable households to heat their home.

Local Authorities have the ability to widen the eligibility criteria for this scheme in order to tailor the scheme to local needs. Portsmouth City Council published a statement of intent outlining the extended criteria, and accepted requests for signed declaration forms.

Through this scheme, 414 flexible eligibility forms were signed for Portsmouth residents under Low Income and Vulnerable or Fuel Poor eligibility categories.  These signed forms led to average lifetime savings of £1,178,375 from installed measures such as cavity wall and loft insulation, smart heating controls and high heat retention storage heaters.

Private Sector Housing

The Private Sector Housing Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards make it unlawful to let a privately rented property which has an EPC score of F or G unless they have a registered valid exemption. The standard is enforced by local authorities who have the powers to check and ensure compliance.

Portsmouth City Council, Private Sector Housing team have undertaken a survey of all privately rented properties and have identified 128 non-compliant properties with an EPC of below E.

To support landlords to make the required upgrades to their property to become compliant with the legislation, PCC informally posted a newsletter in early December 2022 to remind Landlords of their responsibilities around MEES and the potential for a fine if they continue to fail to meet the regulations. Since the posting of the newsletter, there has been a minimum of 13 domestic properties which have had their EPC improved to a minimum of E.

In 2023 the Council introduced Additional Licensing to privately rented Houses of Multiple Occupation, a condition of the licence is to provide an EPC, where properties are identified with low EPC ratings, the landlord is required to improve the EPC rating or submit a valid exemption.

Compliance notices have not yet been issued, but the Council’s enforcement policy is being updated to include a proposed amendment which will allow the future publication of compliance notices.

To further support Landlords to understand their obligations and how they can improve the energy efficiency of their properties, PCC has published an easy-to-use online tool which displays recommended upgrades, expected costs and what this will do to their EPC score. The tool links to available funding and approved installers: Landlord responsibilities – Switched On Portsmouth.

The PSH team also proactively engage with local landlords and landlord groups to provide support and education around energy efficiency measures.

Portsmouth City Council Housing

Asset Management Strategy

Portsmouth City Council owns over 15,000 social or affordable rented properties within the areas of Portsmouth, Havant, Gosport, Fareham and Winchester, with the majority of stock in Portsmouth itself.

The Council are currently in the process of reviewing and updating its Asset Management Strategy (AMS) which will play key role in outlining aspirations and measures associated with improving the energy efficiency and decarbonising the Council owned housing portfolio.

As part of the review of the strategy, since 2023 the Council has increased its undertaking of Asset Management Surveys of housing stock, including undertaking EPC surveys. The outputs of the surveys and EPC’s will inform the AMS, identifying inefficient properties and potential measures to be considered to improve energy efficiency and associated carbon emissions.

Council Housing Repairs and Planned Maintenance

Various measures are undertaken as part of routine repairs or void works, these include ensuring that properties have sufficient loft insulation, cavity wall insulation is installed where appropriate and gas boilers are replaced with more modern efficient ones when at end of serviceable life.

Where larger planned maintenance schemes are undertaken, an assessment is made of energy efficiency measures that can be undertaken alongside maintenance works. Example of these may include upgrading of roof insulation when replacing flat roofs, the installation of external wall insulation where existing external wall materials require replacement or when roofing works are required, the suitability for solar PV is undertaken and installed where appropriate.

Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund

The Council has recently been successful in securing funding of £1.9m through Wave 2.2 of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF), to undertake various efficiency upgrades for up to 141 system-built properties with an EPC Score of D.  To increase these to an EPC C, measures to be installed include external wall insulation, replacement windows and loft insulation top ups. This project will provide valuable insight and experience for the Council in delivering large scale retrofit projects on domestic properties and testing the deliverability and skills of local supply chains.

New Construction Social Housing

Portsmouth City Council has an ongoing programme of building new Council housing, since 2019 the Council have constructed 38 houses and 53 flats. For each scheme energy efficiency has been a core design criterion with each scheme delivered exceeding Building Regulation requirements.

Recent schemes have delivered a number of energy efficient properties including;

Three, four-bedroom houses all EPC Score A.  Technologies included – Solar PV, battery storage, Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR), Air Source Heat Pumps and Electric Vehicle Charge Points (EVCP).

Four, three-bedroom houses, all EPC Score A.  Technologies included – Solar PV, battery storage, Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR) and Air Source Heat Pumps.

A block of nine flats, all EPC Score A. Technologies included – Solar PV and Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR)

A block of 13 supported housing flats, all EPC score A. Technologies included – Solar PV and a Ground Source Heat pump.

The Council currently has a number of pipeline schemes at the design stage that have been designed with the aspiration of achieving the Passivhaus standard.

Training

Within Portsmouth City Councils, in-house Building Services department, staff have received a range of training to improve their knowledge of energy efficiency and sustainable construction to delivery of maintenance and new build scheme.

Examples of training include EPC training to all new Building Surveying apprentices, 3 Building Surveyors have completed a level 5 Retrofit Coordination and Risk Management diploma and 5 Architects have been Certified Passivhaus designers.

Smart Meters

As part of the Switched On Portsmouth service, PCC provide advice and information on smart meters to support the rollout. This includes information on the website, posters presented across the city and demonstrations at in person events. PCC successfully secured funding as part of the Smart GB in Communities Grant to support these activities. Through this grant funding, 751,400 people in Portsmouth were directly or indirectly provided with advice on how to get a smart meter installed, the benefits of having one fitted, education to dispel the myths around smart meters and how to utilise the in-home display to manage energy use efficiently.

Within PCC’s own housing stock, smart meters are installed when a property become void as part of a smart meter roll out plan. For existing tenants, advice is provided via Switched On Portsmouth to encourage the take up of smart meters.