Work begins to retrofit homes in Portree amid Skye’s housing crisis

Left to Right: Colin Caitens, Bailey McMillan, Steven Montgomery, Stuart Winton and Ryan Donnelly from Union Technical, part of the team working on the Shulishader Beag retrofit

GLASGOW-based energy services firm Union Technical has commenced work to retrofit 18 homes in Skye in a bid to help address the island’s ongoing housing crisis.  

Work has begun on a £540,000 upgrade of the 18 terraced and semi-detached bungalows at Shulishader Beag in Portree, which were constructed in the 1980s.

Union Technical is working to install new cavity wall insulation, solar PV and battery storage systems, air source heat pumps and ventilation upgrades, to improve thermal efficiency and help tenants make substantial savings on their energy bills.  

The properties are managed by Trust Housing Association, one of Scotland’s largest housing support and care providers, which manages more than 3,700 homes in 23 local authorities.  

Union Technical is an accredited installer of energy efficiency services throughout the UK.With more than 30 years’ experience in the energy sector, Union Technical has helped thousands of customers throughout Scotland, England and Wales to make significant savings on their energy bills.  

The firm has a strong track record of working to upgrade and improve homes in rural areas of Scotland, with the current retrofit in Portree following recent developments in Dumfriesand their ongoing work in the Outer Hebrides. 

The energy efficiency upgrades at Shulishader Beag are due to be completed on Wednesday 12th July.  

Owen Coyle, Director at Union Technical, said:  

“Union Technical has a wealth of experience working in Skye, and within the Highland & Islands area more widely, and our current project in Portree is a major milestone for us.

“The cost-of-living crisis is having a significant impact in the islands, where food and energy prices are typically higher than on the mainland. Reducing energy bills and allowing that saving to be distributed in the community can only have a positive outcome.  

“The services Union Technical provides are utility funded and government backed. This funding has been critical in ensuring the cost to the client is minimised, which means funds go further towards achieving their energy efficiency aspirations.  

“Social responsibility is at the heart of all we do, and as a business we are fully committed to building long-term, successful relationships with our customers. We are family-owned and run, with our projects being installed by a mixture of our own in-house teams and sourcing local labour through our Approved Contractors process. We are always keen to ensure as much benefit as possible is kept within the local community.” 

Ian Davie, Head of Development & Asset Strategy at Trust Housing Association, said:  

“Union Technical’s track record of working within the affordable housing sector in Scotland, and in particular within rural locations, was a key factor in the selection process to become our sustainability partner and main contractor for the retrofit at Shulishader Beag.  

“We immediately saw the value in the services which Union Technical provide, and how a partnership would benefit our tenants. Once complete, the retrofit works will help our customers with the cost-of-living crisis by driving down energy usage and fuel bills, helping to tackle fuel poverty and providing warmer and healthier homes.” 

The announcement follows the publication of a report by Citizens Advice UK which found that 15 million British homes, housing 31 million people, are poorly insulated with energy performance (EPC) ratings of level C or below. The report, published earlier this month,estimates that upgrading 13 million of these energy inefficient homes would deliver benefits of nearly £40 billion by 2030, saving consumers up to £24 billion on energy bills and saving the NHS £2 billion by preventing 6,000 excess winter deaths and cutting childhood asthma cases by 650,000.  

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