Reducing residents bills through training housing associations in renewable energy

Currently, tenants moving into properties that have photovoltaic (PV) and Solar Thermal (ST) systems, may not be receiving any advice on how to get maximum benefit from them. As a result, an opportunity to reduce tenants’ fuel bills and help alleviate fuel poverty is being missed.

Up until now the available relevant training courses have tended to cover one technology and are aimed at technical trades such as installers; or they are informal, manufacturer-led courses that are insufficiently structured or developed to be of use to Housing Association staff.

In order to bridge the gap in the market, Decerna, in conjunction with Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) have developed a new bespoke one day training course. It is targeted at tenant liaison officers, to dramatically improve the quality of advice given to tenants about these systems.  The course focuses on empowering tenants to maximise the savings they can make on their energy bills by understanding and properly using the systems.

Working with YHN’s Energy for the Future program, the new course ‘Getting the most out of Renewables in Social Housing’ has been developed, independent of any manufacturer bias. It was trialled in October 2013 at the Ballast Hill Training Centre within the Narec Technology Park, in Blyth, with staff from Your Homes Newcastle, Energy Services at Newcastle City Council and the Fabrick Group.

Attendees were introduced to the renewable technologies most utilised in social housing and provided with useful, practical information on how these systems are most efficiently used.   Delegates received a CPD certificate along with training materials for future reference. The course provided the tenant liaison officers and housing officers with both the knowledge and confidence they need to offer high quality energy advice and guidance to tenants.

When a tenant moves into one of our properties, they want to set up their home and get settled in.  If they move into a house with a solar thermal or photovoltaic system, we will wait a few weeks then contact them to offer an Energy for the Future visit.  At the visit officers show tenants how to save money on energy bills and heat their home more comfortably. Since the training with Decerna we can also help them get the most from the ST and PV systems, save money and reduce their carbon footprint. It also means that YHN’s investment in these systems goes even further.  Working with Decerna filled a gap in the market for us, to the benefit of our tenants.

Tom Jarman, Investment Delivery Manager at Your Homes Newcastle (YHN)

Decerna are scheduling a number of these courses in the near future. If you are interested or have any other training needs, please get in touch on 01670 543009 or email

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