MORE than 100 homes across Southend are set to be fitted with a host of environmental improvements – including solar panels – to lower energy and water bills to benefit council tenants.

Work on the first council home, which is in Leigh, is almost complete and it will be opened as a show home for three months to highlight the benefits before the project is rolled out further.

Southend Council is “retrofitting” the homes with energy saving kits that will make the homes more comfortable for residents, as well as adding water saving and recycling measures to homes and gardens.

The measures will not only lower energy and water bills, but also deliver environmental improvements such as making more space for wildlife, reducing surface water flooding, and improving water quality.

Meg Davidson, councillor responsible for environment, said: “This is an innovative idea that will demonstrate beyond doubt to all that the short-term pain of having building work done leads to the long-term gain of lower energy and water bills.

“As a society we are much more climate conscious and it is time for our homes to reflect that. We’re always going to need energy and water for our creature comforts, but it shouldn’t be to the detriment of the planet, or our wallets.”

Work on the first home will be completed by the end of November.

The benefits of retrofitting include: l Saving energy: By using advanced technology like solar panels, air source heat pumps, energy efficient lights, smart thermostats and better insulation, homes will use less energy which means lover energy bills.

l Using water more efficiently: By grey water rainwater harvesting, storing and re-use, households can reduce water bills and reduce demand on our limited water supply.

l Climate resilient garden with plants chosen to have a low water requirement.

l Eco-friendly: The work reduces the carbon footprint of the house, as it uses less energy.

Once the Leigh home is no longer needed as a showhome, it will go to a family on the housing waiting list.

David Garston, councillor responsible for housing and planning, said: “With the rising cost of living, retrofitting is essentially future proofing the council’s housing stock and creating resilience in our homes to make sure they are there for people who need it, for decades to come.”