We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Durham Energy Institute


Durham providing warmer homes for a Greener Great Britain

(25 October 2018)

Dr Hongjian Sun with residents Taija and Chris Mutumbwa

Dr Hongjian Sun with residents Taija and Chris Mutumbwa

Durham County Council and Durham University launched a flagship community energy efficiency project last week as part of Green Great Britain Week.

The project entitled “Solid Wall Insulation Innovation” (SWI) has received £1.8Million of European Union funding and aims to provide 220 homes in the County with the latest technology in Solid Wall Insulation, resulting in carbon savings in excess of 5040 TCO2 over the lifetime of the homes. 

For properties of solid wall construction, SWI is the singular most important energy efficiency measure, addressing the external envelope of the property and the principal area of heat loss. Addressing these losses could result in a saving in the millions of Tonnes for Carbon emissions.

Residents who have volunteered to take part will see the benefit of having their homes, which are comprised of older stone or brick, fitted with the latest external wall insulation system. Smart heating controllers will also be installed into the homes to help monitor energy usage.

In the North East most properties built after 1920 were constructed with a cavity between the inside and outside walls that can be easily filled with insulation. However, older solid wall properties can only be insulated by attaching boards or sheets to the inside or the external wall.

Chris Mutumbwa, from Ramshaw, is taking part in the scheme. He said: "My wife and I live in a historic stone property with very thick walls and high ceilings. Our property is beautiful but expensive to heat. When we heard that the council was trialling an external insulation system that could exactly replicate our limestone house, we were delighted to take part."

This ground-breaking innovation project seeks to lower domestic carbon emissions through removing the blockers to wide-scale adoption of solid wall insulation. With 50,000 solid wall properties in County Durham and 2 million nationally this project aims to have a real impact on our national energy consumption by substantially reducing the costs and access barriers of the systems.

The homes within the project have been chosen from 5 ex-mining communities and comprise older stone and brick terraced and fuel poor households with EPC ratings of E or above.

Durham University will evaluate the benefits 

 Durham Energy Institute, as the research partner, will research and fully evaluate the benefits that the new insulation system will bring. It will look at the energy usage, temperature and humidity of the properties as well as the use of the new smart heating controls to assess how these technologies can provide warmer homes and change behaviours.

Cllr Tanya Tucker, Durham Council's Cabinet support member for strategic housing and assets, said: "We are pleased to be working in partnership with Durham University on this groundbreaking energy efficiency project.

"The county has over 50,000 solid wall brick and stone built homes which are very difficult to keep warm without wall insulation. Through this project we now have a system which is easier to install, affordable and looks great."

Dr Hongjian Sun of Durham Energy Institute said “SWIi is a very exciting innovation project that helps Durham move quickly to the era of high energy efficiency and reduced carbon footprints. It demonstrates several key technologies on over 200 properties in Durham county and has a huge potential to releasing the benefits of holistic energy efficiency approaches on whole-place energy and carbon savings”

A well-insulated home typically uses 25 per cent less energy than an uninsulated similar property. This also saves householders 25 per cent on their heating bills and is better for the environment, helping to reduce global warming.

Further information on the research project can be found here:

Information on Durham County Council's website can be found here:

Coverage of the launch on Durham County Council website: