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Climate Change Minister with Rhiw Cefn Gwlad resident Penny Hoey

Welsh Government: £250million towards 20,000 low carbon homes for rent

Llywodraeth Cymru: £250miliwn tuag at 20,000 o gartrefi carbon isel i'w rhentu

Welsh Government has doubled its spending on social housing for rent, committing an initial £250million in 2021/22 for 20,000 new low carbon homes.

The ambitious plans will address a rising demand for housing and the climate crisis, providing good quality and affordable green homes to those who need them.

All homes will be built to bold new quality and environmental standards with the aim for some of the stock to go beyond net zero and produce more energy than they use. A further announcement on this is expected before the end of this month.

Visiting one of Wales’ first ‘positive energy’ social housing schemes today, the Minister for Climate Change who is responsible for housing, Julie James, said Wales & West Housing’s Rhiw Cefn Gwlad scheme in Bridgend was ‘an exemplar’ for developers, housing associations and councils to follow.

The 14 home development has made use of the latest technical innovations in renewable energy, from exhaust air heat pumps integrated with mechanical ventilation, to large solar photovoltaic roof systems coupled with a Tesla battery system.

The residents who moved in in January this year, received their first negative energy bill in March, meaning the excess energy their homes have generated has already been pumped back into the national grid.

The Minister said:

“Hearing how much Cai, Allyn and other residents have been saving on their household bills today, and the difference their new, high quality home has made to their wellbeing, reinforces my confidence that our ambitious housing plan is going to make a real difference to the people of Wales.

“We have doubled our money - committing a quarter of a billion pounds this financial year, so we can get on and build 20,000 new low carbon homes for rent.

“This goes beyond Welsh housing need estimates.

“We are building at scale to address the supply and demand imbalance, homelessness, the growing second homes crisis, and the climate emergency. We are building high quality homes to make a difference to people’s quality of living. And we are ensuring the decisions we make today are the right ones for our future generations.”

Cai Phillips and his partner Abigail Rees moved into their 2-bed home at Rhiw Cefn Gwlad with their three-year-old daughter Olivia after living with their parents in Bridgend.

Cai said:

 “The systems built into the house are really easy to use. The house is so well insulated that the temperature hardly drops below 20 degrees. Even on some of the coldest days in winter we didn’t need to put the heating on.

“I can control the heating from an app on my phone and I have learnt how to save energy by using the battery to self-power the house. We are paying just £20 a month for our electric bills and are in credit on our bills, which is amazing. The house is perfect.”

Allyn King, his wife Anne-Marie and their three children aged between 10 and 17, moved into their new 4-bed house at Rhiw Cefn Glwad in January 2021.

Before moving to Rhiw Cefn Gwlad the family were spending around £250 per month on electricity and gas for heating, washing and drying. Their payments have been drastically reduced thanks to the technologies built into the homes.

Allyn said:

“The house is amazing. In our old house we were spending around £250 on electricity and gas for heating, washing and drying. Now we are paying £19.33 a month direct debit on our electricity. We have built up more than £250 in credit during the summer which will be really helpful going into the winter.

“The battery is fantastic, it stores the electricity from the roof for when we need it. I also have an app on my phone so that I can control the heating and hot water when I am away from home to save even more energy.

“The extra money we are saving in our household has allowed us to spend more on healthy, fresh food and save for our children’s school uniforms and special occasions.”

Notes to editors

Rhiw Cefn Gwlad, off Bryn Bragl, Bridgend CF31 2JY:

  • 14 all-electric homes, A-rated energy performance.
  • 4x 1-bed apartments, 8x 2-bedroom houses, 2x 4-bedroom houses
  • Total costs = £3.8 million
  • Welsh Government funding = £2.4 million (£940,000 Innovative Housing Programme, £1.5 million Social Housing Grant) Wales & West Housing Investment = £1.4 million
  • The homes are the first homes of their kind, and the first social housing scheme, to use the key technologies and innovations pioneered by the Welsh School of Architecture in their exemplar prototype Solcer house, the UK’s first purpose-built, low-cost energy smart house, capable of exporting more electricity to the national grid than it uses over the course of a year.
  • Built with construction partners, Jehu Group, late 2019 - January 2021
  • AWARDS - Shortlisted for Best Healthy Homes (rural & suburban) Inside Housing Development Awards 2021 and Constructing Excellence Wales Awards 2021 in the Innovation category.

Key technologies:

  • Roofs made from large panels of photovoltaic cells (PV) which turn daylight into electricity to help power the home.
  • Heating and hot water needs for the home provided by an innovative combined air source heat pump and ventilation system.
  • Tesla batteries are fitted in cupboards and store electricity generated by the PV cells to use when it is needed in the evenings with any extra going back into the grid.
  • Walls made from Structured Insulated Panels (SIPS), which are built in factories and contain a thick layer of insulation for higher levels of heat retention.
  • Key equipment capable of being remotely monitored and adjusted to enable fine tuning, to quickly understand and reassure with resident queries and deal with any faults.
  • A wall mounted screen showing energy use in the home for residents to use.