ECO savings: Dumfries residents to be insulated from potential energy price rises thanks to £1.5m ECO project

Almost 300 Riverside Scotland households in Dumfries will enjoy warmer homes and lower energy bills this autumn and winter thanks to a £1.5m retrofit project.

The seven-figure investment has been spent to future proof 294 Riverside Scotland homes so households can benefit from significant energy efficiency upgrades.

All the homes receiving the upgrades have an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of D or below.

The works have been undertaken by Glasgow-based Union Technical Services to improve the thermal efficiency of the homes to a high C EPC rating.


The works have been carried out to eligible homes on College Street, Forsyth Street, Glasgow Street, Goldie Avenue, Nithbank Avenue, Nithside Avenue, Stakeford Street, Sunderries Avenue, and Sunderries Road.

RDSAP* calculations and analysis undertaken by Union Technical before and after the works have shown that the measures installed could reduce energy bills by up to 40%.

The actual amount of energy households will save will depend on many factors including how cold the winter is, how many people are in each household and what kind of fuel a household uses to heat their home.

Using up to 40% less heat would equate to a saving £244* on the current average annual gas bill of £792 per year.

UK energy prices are currently fixed by a price cap until 31st December 2023.  However, energy bills could increase in January.

Work on the 1930s sandstone properties in Stakeford, Dumfries, began in April with spending prioritised on the most poorly insulated properties.

The works programme carried out by Union Technical Services included the installation of an innovative internal wall insulation system designed specifically for solid wall sandstone properties, which will reduce heat demand and lower energy bills.

New ventilation systems to manage moisture have been fitted to improve air quality while eradicating damp and mould. Replacement cavity wall insulation has also been installed and a liquid damp proof course applied.

Riverside Scotland has also installed Switchee smart thermostats in the homes.

Switchee optimises household energy use, lowering heating bills by up to 17%. It also enables residents to reduce their energy use by remotely controlling it when they are out the house.

The investment has been hailed as a welcome boost for residents for autumn and winter as households continue to navigate the cost-of-living crisis.

The work will also contribute towards the Scottish Government’s target of becoming net zero by 2045.

So far 250 of the homes have received the improvement works with the final 46 homes set to be finished by early November.

As part of the work Union Technical Services has also given £5,000 to Riverside Scotland to fund further improvements to the estate’s flourishing community garden.

Local resident Paul McGregor, who has lived in Stakeford for 30 years, said: “I was really pleased when I heard that Riverside Scotland was upgrading and investing in the older houses on the estate like mine.

“The works were no hassle and my home feels cosier. With winter approaching and ever rising energy costs I am looking forward to a warmer home that’s cheaper to run.”

Paul, who is also chairperson of the Sandside Gardening Project, added: “I’d like to thank Union Technical for their generous donation to our gardening project. The garden is a space to bring the community together and combat isolation. We are going to use some of the funds for our outdoor cooking area where we will host community barbecues and other events. The donation will also help fund more seating so more people can come along and have a chat and a cuppa with friends.”

Heather Anderson, Head of Service Delivery at Riverside Scotland said: “We are really pleased with the results of this ECO scheme which provides a welcome boost for almost 300 Riverside Scotland customers ahead of the winter.

“Investing in our older homes is a huge priority for Riverside Scotland. This work means our residents will benefit from a warmer, more comfortable home which will help to improve health and wellbeing as well as allowing them to save money on their energy bills.

“While the benefits will be fairly immediate for our customers this year, investing in this kind of work means our customers will benefit from the energy savings each and every winter.”

Riverside has a target of bringing all their homes up to a minimum EPC Band C by 2030.

Earlier this year Riverside received a boost in its work to improve the warmth and energy efficiency of its housing stock for customers across the UK when it was successful in a £12.7m bid from the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero.

Riverside will provide £15m in match funding to that programme of work to retrofit more than 1,100 homes.

Tessa Barraclough, Head of Sustainability at Riverside, said: “Riverside has five main strategic objectives we are focussing on. Increasing the energy-efficiency of our customers’ homes to make them warmer and more cost effective for people is one of our top priorities.

“I’m really pleased we’ve been able to get this scheme completed for our customers ahead of the coming winter. We are grateful to Union Technical for completing the works on schedule and with minimum disruption to our customers.”

Colin Caitens, Head of Client Projects at Union Technical Service, said: “It has been a real pleasure to work on this project with Riverside Scotland and their customers. Everyone has engaged really well with us. The tenants are really encouraged with the energy cost saving measures being installed, the directors and both asset and housing teams at Riverside Scotland allowed Union Technical to drive the project from the start whilst leaning on our experience with large scale delivery.

“As a business we are dedicated to helping improve the comfort and energy efficiency of people’s homes. One of our main aims at the moment is to help people tackle the cost-of-living crisis which is affecting everyone in Scotland and to help our clients meet their net zero aspirations.”

*RDSAP – RDSAP stands for Reduced Data Standard Assessment Procedure

*The average gas bill in the UK as of 1 October 2023 is £792.35 per year (without factoring in the annual gas standing charge). Government analysis estimates that heating is estimated to account for 77.2% of total gas use. Using up to 40% less heat would equate to a saving £244.68p on the average annual gas bill of £792.35 per year.