Angus pensioners decanted three times during a “nightmare” pilot project to insulate their 140-year old home have been told by council chiefs not to expect their energy bills to drop.
Pamela and Jim Baker’s Carnoustie cottage has been treated with a pioneering internal insulation system designed to get around the absence of cavities in the walls of the Panmure Street property.
The couple say the job has led to a catalogue of problems since contractors arrived last January to install the Matilda’s Blanket system – but still left them paying the same amount per week to heat their home.
Council chiefs have said tenants whose homes are made more energy efficient might still end up feeding the meter to the same extent – but will find themselves “much warmer”.
Pamela said: “The council said this job could be done with us still living in the house but that was just impossible.
“Because Jim is disabled, I got up every morning at 7am to let the men in. The house was a complete shambles and I was confined to sitting on a kitchen stool for 10 hours daily because I couldn’t get through the house.
“Jim was stuck in bed and the whole thing made his COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] worse.
“Eventually they put us up a Premier Inn for two weeks but when we came back the whole place was a shambles and within weeks the walls started to crack.
“We were decanted for another three days, but a team from the specialists in Cardiff came and said the job hadn’t been done properly and would have to come out, so in July we were put out for another three weeks.”
Pamela said they were told to leave their home for a fourth time in December but refused.
“The final straw is that despite this so-called wonderful insulation, the house is no warmer and we still put a minimum £45 per week in the meter,” she added.
An Angus Council spokesperson said: “At the request of the tenants we brought forward the planned insulation of this home. As the property cannot readily be insulated externally, we agreed with the tenants that we would pilot the use of a new internal insulation system which has been used in another neighbouring authority.
“The manufacturers indicate that the system can be applied with householders in situ, as disruption could be relatively minor.
“However, during the installation it soon became clear that this was not the case, so decants had to be arranged during the most intensive parts of the operation.
“Now that the work has been completed, monitoring equipment demonstrates that the energy efficiency rating of the property has been greatly improved, draughts reduced, and the ambient temperature increased.
“We know from experience that when the thermal efficiency of the building fabric is improved, householders very often have the same fuel bills as they did before – the difference being, that they are now much warmer.”