Energy bills shock for families as homes fail to live up to eco promise (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bills shock for families as West Bowling eco-friendly homes project fails to live up to promise
People living in a multi-million pound ‘homes of the future’ project in Bradford are up in arms over the sky-high electricity bills they have racked up.
The Pavilion Gardens complex in West Bowling was heralded as being the most environmentally-friendly in Yorkshire when it was completed in July 2011 at a cost of £5.6m shared between Bradford Council and the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency.
Twelve of the 45 super-insulated homes were the first in the region to be built to the highest level of the Government’s Code for Sustainable Homes and have innovations such as heating provided by a communal bio-mass boiler.
The remainder were constructed to a slightly lower energy efficiency level, but were also equipped with air heat pumps, solar panels and rainwater harvesters.
Residents were promised the homes – the first to be built by the Council for 30 years – would be cheap to run, but a little more than 18 months later, it is having to pledge to reimburse people who have high electricity usage as a major investigation continues with the company that built them into what has gone wrong.
Raquel and Sunny Tanday, both 23, and the parents of two young children, say their power bills come to about £500 a quarter since December 2011.
Their energy provider E-on says a standard average bill, based on national annual average consumption of 16,500 kWh for gas and 3,300 KWh for electricity, paid by fixed monthly direct debit, would be £1,261.
The couple, who have complained to E-on and to their landlord Yorkshire Housing, which manages the scheme on behalf of the Council, said the huge bills have taken a toll on family life.
“When we moved in here we thought it was going to be our dream house. They are lovely houses on a nice street, but they are not what we expected them to be in terms of power-saving and cheap to run,” said Mrs Tanday.
“We moved in here to be a family, but it’s just tearing us apart because the big bills are making us argue all the time. There are people in the street who already want to move out because it’s just too expensive to live here.”
David Shepherd, the Council’s assistant director of housing, said “The Council understands that many Pavilion Gardens residents are experiencing problems with energy usage and billing. We appreciate that it is a serious problem and we are working with residents, the building contractor, the energy company and our managing agents, Yorkshire Housing, to find a solution.
“We are confident that when these problems have been resolved, residents at Pavilion Gardens will benefit from lower bills in the future. We want to reassure residents that they will be reimbursed for any usage above the standard charge for their household.”
The Council stressed that it will charge the original building contractor for any costs incurred in reimbursing residents.
The Council has invited residents to a meeting tomorrow at Lowerfield Primary School in Fenby Avenue, from 6pm, to discuss the problems.
Raquel and Sunny Tanday got the keys to their house in July 2011, but did not move in until December that year.
On January 6, 2012, they got their first E-on energy bill for £187, which they paid – despite thinking it was on the high-side.
Three months later their next bill was for £745.25. Startled by the amount the couple asked E-on to check the amount, only to be told there had been a mistake and it should have been £949 – they paid £300 towards it straight away.
On April 13, they got another bill from E-on saying they still owed £596 so they paid off another £190.
On July 11, another bill came demanding £715, and by October they owed £723, which they had to borrow to pay it all to get a clean slate.
Last month another E-on bill came through the door for £520.