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Engineers embark on energy-efficiency project in Kent

Specialist engineers in Kent have begun fitting the homes of local residents with energy-efficient upgrades such as thermal insulation.

In a partnership with the University of Brighton, Artois University in France and French housing association Pas de Calais Habitat, Amicus Horizon - an organisation offering affordable homes and shared ownership in London and the south-east of the UK - is working to lower people's energy bills.

Joining EU-funded body IFORE - a cross-border project looking to encourage low-carbon retro-fitting in social housing - the company will be making improvements to the homes of 100 people on each side of the English Channel.

Housing maintenance and repair firm Prima Service will also be providing expert upgrades for window units on 98 properties as part of a process managed by Amicus Horizon.

Among the practical solutions being installed are solar panels, renewable technologies and a new system for external wall insulation and the body is aiming to cut the consumers' carbon footprint by up to 60 per cent.

The €6.3 million (£5.1 million) initiative is due to run until March 2014 and is looking to raise awareness among local households to conserve energy.

Will Chan, asset manager for Prima Service, said checking window units are airtight will be key for the company's engineers as they work to improve energy efficiency.

"The current PVCu installation is 20 years old and units are failing, so we must work hard to ensure there are no holes in the frames or external trip where hot air can escape," he added.

As nearly one-quarter of IFORE's planned energy reductions come from teaching Kent residents to become more frugal with their gas and electricity, community awareness is integral to the project's success.

Mr Chan continued: "The quality of finish and level of service we provide will play a huge part in achieving the resident satisfaction that is crucial for positive engagement."

Kent's elderly householders are also due to receive thermal insulation from the county's Community Foundation after it was recently awarded more than £20,000 to support vulnerable consumers.

Posted by Paul Taylor