A man who said he had to “ration” his heating in order to keep his family warm has spoken of his relief at having renewable energy technologies fitted in his housing association home.

The rising cost of energy had become a real concern for Tony Smith, who shares a two-bedroom bungalow with his wife Julie and their daughter Amanda.

But Mr Smith says his heating worries are now over after his landlord Broadacres Housing Association installed solar panels and an air source heat pump at their home in the village of Crayke, near Easingwold.

In just two weeks, the energy usage in the home has dropped by 35 per cent, despite the solar panels and heat pumps being fitted in the middle of winter (January 2024).

The Northern Echo: Tony Smith with the heat pump at his home, with Helen Ball and Broadacres’ Sustainability

Mr Smith says: “My family need heat for their health because both my wife and daughter have disabilities, and this is the first time in 11 years of living here that we have had luxurious warmth throughout the home.

“Previously we had night storage heaters and could only afford to warm the room we were actually in. We used to dread winter, but that worry has now gone forever.

“The entire process from start to finish was so smooth and efficient and we can’t thank Broadacres enough.

“Our home was already the finest place we have ever lived in. We have always woken up each day and pinched ourselves and now it’s even better.”

The energy efficiency in Mr Smith’s home has been improved as part of a £5.3 million investment by Broadacres, which includes a grant £2.4m from the government’s Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.

This particular project is resulting in Broadacres improving the energy efficiency rating of 400 homes, so they achieve a minimum EPC C rating. For example, the energy efficiency of Mr Smith’s home prior to the work was E-rated, now the home is B-rated.

This is being achieved through a combination of solar panels and air source heat pump insulations, loft insulation and floor insulation.

Broadacres is rapidly approaching its 200th solar panel installation, which will mark the halfway point of this scheme.

Helen Ball, Broadacres’ senior sustainability manager, said: “Air source heat pumps and solar panels work very well hand in hand, as the panels generate electricity and the pumps consume electricity. We are also installing loft insulation and floor insulation in suitable homes, which will help to make it easier for customers to keep their homes warmer in the winter.

“We are therefore delighted that Mr Smith is already noticing the difference and I’m confident that he’ll continue to appreciate the benefit of the solar panels in particular with the lighter and longer days approaching in spring and then summer.”

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This project is in addition to other measures Broadacres is taking to improve the efficiency of its homes to ensure that all homes have an energy efficiency rating of C or above by 2028. It will contribute towards its target to achieve net zero carbon status by 2050.

It now installs air source heat pumps as standard in its new build homes and in total more than 800 homes are now heated with an Air Source Heat Pump. These have been in areas without access to mains gas, replacing oil and LPG central heating and storage heater systems.

Although by 2050, a low carbon heating system will be installed in every one of the Association’s 6,700 homes, along with improved levels of insulation, triple glazed windows and solar panels on many homes.