Emissions from residential homes accounts for 15% of our county’s carbon footprint. Decreasing our emissions from our home has so many benefits. Most importantly we can save ourselves some money and reduce our carbon footprint.
Retrofitting typically involves improving your home to increase its energy efficiency through a variety of measures. This creates multiple benefits, the main ones being you reduce your energy usage and saving yourself money on your bills. Your home will be warmer and more comfortable as well as reduce the emissions your home produces.
To find out more about homes in Somerset view our housing strategy.
For a quick introduction to retrofitting along with information on the kind of measures you can view our Retrofit Introduction.
The council has a number of grants available for those looking to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. To see what’s available, view our energy page.
Grants available include:
- Home Upgrade Grant (HUGS) – funding to make homes warmer and reduce bills and carbon emissions. Available to those not connected to the gas grid, with an EPC D rating or below, and a gross income of £30,000 or less
- Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) – funding to replace old boilers with heat pumps for up to £5000 towards an air source heat pump or £6000 for a ground source heat pump. Available to anyone
- Energy Company Obligation Funding (ECO) – funding to those that are vulnerable or on low incomes. For more information contact the Centre for Sustainable Energy, which administers the grant on behalf of Somerset Council. View our joint ECO statement.
- Safe, Warm and Secure – a Somerset Council grant for those on low income to improve their home in a number of ways such as access, energy efficiency and security
- Lendology – low-cost loans to improve your home. See the section on Lendology for more information
Listed buildings require additional measures when looking at retrofitting and energy efficiency. For more information, look at Historic England’s advice.
Somerset Retrofit Accelerator Project
In 2022 a partnership between the five Somerset councils, Bruton, Glastonbury and Frome Town Councils, The Green Register and The Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) delivered the Somerset Retrofit Accelerator Project.
The aim of the project was to boost both the demand and supply for energy efficiency measures across Somerset. This was split into four objectives:
- 50 discounted Retrofit Assessments for Somerset households in partnership with Futureproof. Delivered by CSE and booked through the Futureproof website. Although the discounted plans have all been delivered you are still able to book an appointment with them
- 30 free places on the Futureproof Essentials course for local construction professionals are available through The Green Register. This online course is made up of 10 one-hour video training sessions led by trainers from The Green Register’s expert team. It is estimated to take 10 to 15 hours to complete the course. You can access training through their e-learning platform to allow for flexibility. All places have been filled, but if you’re still interested the courses are available to be purchased
- Creating a series of virtual online tours displaying low-carbon homes and what previous homeowners have done when retrofitting their properties. The series shares knowledge and experiences from those who have carried out work to their homes. You can find out more on YouTube
- The creation of an online Green Directory for Somerset with an extensive list of businesses involved in the retrofit journey in your area. The directory is now live. Visit Somerset’s Retrofit Green Directory to find a business local to you
You can read the full project evaluation.
The Centre for Sustainable Energy
The Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) is a national charity based in Bristol that supports people and organisations across the UK to tackle the climate emergency through support and advice on the energy efficiency of people’s homes.
The CSE has worked in partnership with the former five Somerset councils and with the new Somerset Council to support residents to become more energy aware. They also help to provide some of the grants available to Somerset homeowners on behalf of Somerset Council.
To find out if you’re eligible for any grant funding or for advice on saving energy contact CSE . Call them on 0117 934 1400 or visit the Centre for Sustainable Energy website.
More information on the grants available can be found on our Funding and Grants page.
Somerset Energy Saver
The Somerset Energy Saver website was launched in September 2022 to initially help residents in the Mendip area reduce their energy bills and find out about financial assistance. The information is relevant to all residents of Somerset. To register for financial assistance or find out ways to reduce your energy bill, see our Somerset Energy Saver Website.
In addition to the grants available, Somerset Council also works in partnership with Lendology who provide low-cost loans for those not eligible for grant funding. Lendology is a not-for-profit and bases its decisions on its customers’ needs, not on credit ratings or computer algorithms. If you’re interested in finding out more call Lendology on 01823 461099 or visit the Lendology website.
Somerset Independence Plus
Somerset Independence Plus are a separate council-owned service that acts on behalf of Somerset Council. This service is to help disabled and vulnerable people in Somerset, to be more independent and improve their housing to live more safely in their own homes. The service provides:
- Disability adaptations
- Home Improvements
- Prevention services
To make an enquiry call 0300 303 7794 or fill out the form on the Somerset Independence Plus website.
The former Sedgemoor District Council produced a community adaption toolkit to help village halls prepare for the effects of climate change.
The toolkit breaks it down into four easy steps:
- Identify the risks
- Complete the worksheets around different risk areas
- Consider potential barriers
- Follow the signposts for information and resources that can help
For more information you can view the toolkit.
Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)
Since 1 April 2020, landlords can no longer let properties covered by MEES regulation if the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of the property is rated below E, unless they have a valid exemption in place.
For further guidance visit the government website.
As a landlord, you may be eligible for grant funding to improve your properties. Contact the Centre for Sustainable Energy for more information.
Thermal imaging cameras
This project was run by the former South Somerset District Council project over the winters of 2021 and 2022. Several thermal imaging cameras were available for communities through their local libraries.
The cameras were used to identify potential improvements and map heat loss on properties, and linked directly to apple or android smartphones. Once areas of heat loss are identified simple tips can be used to reduce this:
- Use heat-reflective aluminium foil behind the radiator to reduce heat loss
- Use thick curtains, with a thermal lining, to reduce heat loss through the windows
- Stop heat being lost up the chimney when not in use by using a chimney balloon or woollen chimney insulator, but remember to remove them before starting any fires
- Watch out for mini-draughts, such as letterboxes or cat flaps – add an extra barrier in the form of a ‘brush’
- Use draught excluders along the base of doors
- Cover bare floors, which account for as much as 10% of heat loss if they’re not insulated
- Insulate your house with DIY loft insulation and ensure the loft hatch is also insulated
Public Sector Decarbonisation
There are a number of projects both completed and ongoing across the various council assets focused on decarbonising our estate. These include:
- Yeovil Library – more information about the project
- Battery Storage Plant
The former South Somerset District Council developed and invested heavily in an innovative Battery Energy Storage Site (BESS) project near Taunton. This is to help store renewable energy and reduce wastage when too much is being produced. When there is more power being supplied from renewables than the National Grid requires, energy will be stored at our site. This electricity can then be fed back into the grid at a later time when the demand has increased.
This has now been expanded to 30 megawatts (MW) to maximise the capability of the site. It was done by working in partnership with the following national and international businesses:
- Opium Power Ltd
- Western Power Distribution
- British Solar Renewables Ltd
- Kiwi Power Ltd
- National Grid
Through their joint venture company SSDC Opium Power Ltd, another 40MW Battery Energy Storage site near Fareham in Hampshire is now being built. Funded by the former SSDC it will be one of the most advanced in the UK. To find out more visit Opium Power’s website.
Somerset County Hall
These works will result in this building being far more energy efficient and will also meet a number of the Government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme measures.
The council successfully bid for a £4.1m grant from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, provided by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The works at B Block, County Hall involve replacing all the windows, roof and wall insulation, putting in energy-efficient heating and air circulation systems, and increasing the number of solar panels.
Climate positive planning
Somerset Council has a number of existing policies from the previous Somerset councils which relate to the climate and ecological emergency. The development of a new Local Plan for Somerset presents some fantastic opportunities to ensure that future housing stock in Somerset is resilient to climate change and as least carbon-intensive as possible.
If you’re looking at installing renewables on your property have a look at our Planning Guide to installing renewable energy on domestic premises.
To see the full list of climate planning guidance visit our Planning page.
Net Zero Carbon Toolkit
Pulling on the latest guidance and best practice, the Net Zero Carbon Toolkit is a practical, easy to follow guide to help plan a net zero housing project.
It is aimed at small or medium-sized house builders, architects, self-builders and consultants. The toolkit covers a range of steps – from pre-planning right through to construction – for delivering net-zero carbon, low-energy homes.
For homeowners looking to retrofit or extend your existing property, the toolkit provides guidance and advice on what you need to consider and how you can implement energy efficiency measures. It also shows how to begin the process of decarbonising your homes, in a more affordable, phased approach.
Implementing the measures laid out in the new toolkit will help reduce the carbon footprint of new and existing buildings. Making significant reductions to a home’s carbon emissions also means lower energy bills for homeowners, more people out of fuel poverty and homes that are comfortable and healthier to live in.
The toolkit was originally developed by Cotswold District Council and the Centre for Sustainable Energy, and adopted by the Somerset councils. View the document and find out more.