Are we doing enough to make our homes more energy efficient?

With winter just around the corner, we'll no doubt be thinking of ways to heat our homes more efficiently.

Wales has some of the oldest housing stock in the UK and whilst new build houses are energy efficient - there's much work to be done to retro-fit older properties.

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The Welsh Assembly's Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs Committee is launching an inquiry into how to make Welsh homes as energy-efficient as possible, and examine potential barriers.

The Welsh Government says it welcomes the inquiry, and adds that it will "provide an opportunity to demonstrate our excellent track record in this area and provide additional evidence to support the achievement of our emerging decarbonisation targets.”

Solar panels on the roof of Sian Cutter-Jones' retrofitted home

Sian Cutter-Jones has lived in her terraced house in Gelli, Rhondda for ten years.

Until its recent renovation, she and her family found the cold temperatures in the house difficult to live with.

It was freezing... absolutely perishing. We'd have two duvets on our beds at wintertime, we'd go to bed with our dressing gowns on. It was absolutely freezing.

– Sian Cutter-Jones

The house was chosen for a retrofitting trial carried out by Cardiff University.

The building has been substantially insulated, with a new heating system and solar panels on the roof.

Solar panels can help homes substantially reduce their electricity bills

Wales has probably a larger percentage of older houses than the the rest of the UK.

They use a lot of energy, it's difficult to keep them warm, and not only does it cost money for the energy, but the health really of people and the quality of life is compromised by not being able to have affordable warmth.

– Prof Phil Jones, Cardiff University

Affordability and the environment are key in Bethesda.

100 homes are involved in a community energy project where they buy electricity generated by a hydro scheme at a reduced price.

Harnessing the power of water in Bethesda

Energy Local founder Dr Mary Gillie says it means more money is being invested in the community.

"More of their electricity bill is being given to the local hydro which is owned by the local people" she told ITV Wales.

"All the money to set this up in the first place was collected via a local share offer, so they're paid a dividend."

"When there's a surplus, that goes into a community benefit fund".

If the hydro's running, we get a proportion of the hydro based on the number of people on the scheme using electricity at that time.

If the hydro's not running or the usage is greater than the amount it's producing, we fall back to a variable rate, so different times of day have a different rate.

I would say we save at least ten pounds a month, if not more.

– Tamsin Slinn, Energy Local member
Do you know how much you pay for your electricity?

Wales has ambitious targets for how it generates electricity - aiming to get 70% of it from renewable sources by 2030.

The two big challenges - how we power our homes, and how we keep the heat in - are under more scrutiny than ever.

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