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Energy efficiency 'walk-through' trial launches in Sheffield
March 23rd, 2010

A novel energy efficiency trial has launched in Sheffield that could pave the way for cosy home improvements in thousands of older terraced houses across the UK.

Like many major cities, Sheffield boasts a high percentage of Victorian terraced houses with ground floor passageways, or ‘walk-throughs’, leading to the back of each property. These small alleys are open to the elements, with icy wind whistling through in the winter. Some residents have often found it difficult - and more expensive - to heat their homes to a cosy temperature because of the draught and the fact the walls lining the passageways are almost never insulated.

SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy) is now funding a project that could mean warmer homes and lower gas and electricity bills. The company is fitting draught-busting doors at each end of eight passageways serving 16 homes across Sheffield. During the trial, sensors will monitor the temperatures inside each walk-through and the 16 homes, to see whether the energy loss has been reduced.

"Fitting doors in these walk-throughs isn’t rocket science but could make a real difference to the comfort of people’s homes," said SSE’s energy efficiency manager Stephen Millward. "This is a great example of a simple, practical solution to an age-old problem. If the trial demonstrates a marked improvement in temperature, with lower energy loss, we could roll this idea out to similar homes across the UK. An added benefit is the subsequent reduction in CO 2 emissions."

Local resident Mark Chapman, of Penistone Road North, Sheffield, is one of the householders taking part in the trial. His home has cavity wall insulation in the back and front walls but not along the side of the 'walk-through' "It’s basically a wind tunnel. Since the new doors have been fitted we’ve noticed the difference in temperature, it's certainly much warmer. Hopefully the findings of the trial will back that up," he said. "We’re also pleased with the added security the doors provide."

The idea for the project was the brainchild of local engineer and Rotarian John Dunkley, who runs a high-tech process engineering firm. He took the concept to energy regulator OFGEM who suggested John team up with SSE. He was then able to work with local energy efficiency experts E9 Limited and the BRE (Buildings Research Establishment), who are also project managing the trial, to devise a test to prove the concept.

John said "There are over 3 million pre-1918 terraced houses in the country which are difficult and expensive to insulate. This idea could be a cost-effective way to help with this problem and has the potential to save millions of tons of CO 2 emissions. I am really looking forward to the results of these tests."

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For further information contact Emma Mason or Sara Bartlett in the Scottish and Southern Energy Press Office on 0845 0760 530.

Notes to Editors: SSE (Scottish and Southern Energy) is one of the largest energy companies in the UK. It is involved in the generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity; energy trading; the storage, distribution and supply of gas, electrical and utility contracting; and telecoms. It is the leading generator of electricity from renewable resources.

SSE supplies over 9.25 million customers through its retail brands, Southern Electric, SWALEC, Scottish Hydro Electric and Atlantic. It transmits and distributes electricity to over 3.6 million customers in central southern England and the north of Scotland.

E9 Limited operates from bases in Coventry and Sheffield, offering a range of environmental and energy consultancy services. E9 predominantly supports industrial and manufacturing companies through development and change by implementing continuous improvements to company operations through a range of innovative management and technical products and services.

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