Housing providers are understandably concerned that the biggest challenge for Social Housing is to achieve Net Zero without causing Fuel Poverty. There are worries that the implementation of new Heating systems could cause fuel bills to skyrocket, pushing low-income tenants further into poverty. This is something that needs to be accounted for when putting together an effective Net Zero strategy. But with approximately 44% of Social Homes failing to fall in line with current EPC standards, Housing Providers are left facing a difficult choice between their budgets or their residents. This is where the introduction of IoT Technology can be of assistance. Modern connected technology can help identify the most at-risk properties, allowing Housing Providers to prioritise these homes in their financial calculations.
The benefit of this ‘Smart Technology’ is readily apparent. Research carried out by the NEA states that ‘tackling fuel poverty’ is essential to achieving total carbon neutrality but with Electric Heating systems costing up to ‘four times more’ than their gas counterparts, there is the risk that tenants living on the poverty line will be negatively impacted by the new Net Zero initiatives. With an estimated 85% of Social Housing reliant on Gas Heating systems, shifting to an Electric system could cause disorientation and higher costs for the tenants. This is where technology can help to bridge the gap. Smart Technologies work by collecting household data, such as the average temperature and humidity – allowing them to more effectively utilise a property’s resources (e.g. heating). This information can also then be accessed by maintenance and support teams, providing them with updates in real-time. Data collected by Smart Technology, like Switchee, can be used to identify problem areas across a range of properties, giving Housing Providers the chance to roll out a solution.
In the past, Housing Providers have taken the blanket approach to their stocks by installing repairs across their properties which does have some positives, but it is not a cost-effective solution. The usage of Technology can help spread the cost and encourage targeted repairs over reactive ones. This helps to raise resident engagement too, as Smart Technology can improve lines of communication between Landlords and Tenants, helping overcome the initial adjustment period. Which reduces the risk of energy waste, thereby improving the overall efficiency of a property.
This move towards increased digitisation will have long-lasting benefits for the Housing Providers and their Tenants, through strengthened lines of communication Landlords can effectively explain the benefits of Net Zero and outline any changes that are being made. This also provides Tenants with a forum to share their thoughts on the process. In this way, Housing Providers can quickly identify problem areas within their approach and set about solving them. For example, Grampian Housing focussed their effort on updating the wall insulation on Non-Traditional houses which, while not improving the aesthetics of the home, did greatly improve the efficiency of the properties. This saved the residents money and also helped provide more effective heat to their homes, which was communicated through data collected by Smart Tech installations.