Helen Grimshaw is People Powered Retrofit’s retrofit evaluation expert. She works with householders to look at the impact of retrofit on their homes and their lives. Here she explains why this stage of process is so important.
Sometimes people ask me why evaluation is such an important part of retrofit. They’ve had the works done, why can’t they just sit back and enjoy?
I always say, ‘You can, but give me your readings first!’ But seriously, there are a number of reasons why monitoring outcomes is so key.
At People Powered Retrofit we want more householders in Greater Manchester to retrofit their homes. One way we can do this is by showing the difference that energy efficiency measures make. As a service, we want to record information about reductions in your energy use, gas and electricity bills, humidity and temperature variability. We also want to capture your perceptions of life after retrofit; how it makes you feel and how it has improved your day-to-day life.
This evidence helps us to make the case, not just to other householders, but to local and central government – the people holding the purse strings around future retrofit funding.
Once the contractor has left and your home is redecorated, those four walls might look different but what is the actual value of the measures? Without a degree of monitoring, you have no way of knowing whether the aims you set out to achieve have been realised. Do you still wear that big sweater every evening? Is the back room being used more? Have your allergies improved? And then there’s the numbers around airtightness, energy use, internal temperature and humidity.
By looking into the results of your retrofit, you can spot problems, for example if a system isn’t working as it should be or a product has been installed incorrectly. Evaluation data will signal any issues that need more detailed, technical monitoring.
Measuring the impact of your project can also help you improve future work, for example, by telling us how different materials and systems have performed - informing future designs and also the development of new systems and materials.