Cutting fuel poverty and carbon emissions for Thurrock social housing residents

Thurrock Council and Kensa Contracting replaced night storage heaters with a network of ground source heat pumps and Thermino heat batteries in three tower blocks in Chadwell St Mary.

The challenge

When looking to replace old storage heaters in 273 social housing flats, Thurrock Council needed an alternative which would be cheaper for tenants to run. Many of the low-income residents were struggling to cover high energy bills, with some paying over £3,000 a year for heating and hot water.

Any new system also needed to be compact, to fit into the space-constrained flats. Ease of use and disruption to tenants during installation were also important considerations.

The solution

The solution was to replace the storage heaters with a series of networked ground source heat pumps and Thermino heat batteries.

This system uses boreholes in the car park to take ambient heat from the ground. This is transported through the tower blocks to a compact heat pump in each flat, which heats the radiators. Mains-pressure hot water is provided by a space-saving Thermino heat battery.

The project secured £2.3m of funding from Wave 1 of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund, making it the largest ground source heat pump scheme to receive funding.

The benefits

The new systems have been transformational for Thurrock residents, with Kensa estimating that the project will cut their energy bills by 67% and lead to a 70% reduction in carbon emissions compared to the old storage heaters.

One resident, Diane, was pleased to report that she’s now spending £21 a week on heating and hot water, down from £75 previously. She also finds the new system more reliable and easier to manage.

Diane said, “The hot water is so fast compared to what we had before. You’d run a bath, wash up a couple of times, and you’d have no hot water, but now we’ve got it constantly. It’s so cheap to run, and with us not getting a lot of money a week, it’s really helping.”

This solution has huge potential to decarbonise heating and hot water in space-constrained tower blocks on a large scale, particularly as social landlords are able to benefit from funding such as the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.

The project was awarded Renewable Energy Project of the Year at the 2024 Business Green awards, in recognition of its effectiveness in lowering carbon emissions and reducing bills for households facing fuel poverty.

Watch Kensa Contracting’s video case study to learn more:


"Some of the residents were unable to have a shower before installing the heat pump system. With the mix of the Shoebox heat pump and the Sunamp heat battery, for the first time, they're able to get adequate hot water."

Ieman Barmaki, Sustainability Director, Kensa Contracting

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