Turning an Energy Bill Nightmare into a Highland Dream Home

This case study illustrates a private landlord owned lovely cottage in our project area. Due to the exposed location and solid walls, the cottage was getting cold and damp. A dream cottage became a nightmare for the tenant. This was the situation that The HEAT Project found when the tenant and owner contacted us for help. Take a look at how the landlord and tenant followed our energy advice to make a more energy efficient house and reduce energy bills.


Imagine a beautiful cottage at the head of a Highland Glen. Sweeping views down the strath with pine and birch trees framing your garden.

Idyllic – everyone’s dream of life in the country.

But what if that house is solid stone, single glazed, with little insulation in the loft and with no mains gas? And what if you’re employed in the care sector and your husband has a disabling health condition?

Suddenly, that dream looks very different, with a cold damp house, soaring heating bills and a low income.

Your landlord is very sympathetic and helpful, but you all know the simple truth is that the rent you pay does not make it sensible for him to invest in your house. Financially, the best for the option for the owner would be to stop renting and either sell up or just leave the house empty.And winter is coming fast.

This was the situation The HEAT Project found when the tenant and owner contacted us for help.

A survey confirmed that while the oil-fired heating system was fairly modern, the exposed location and the fabric of the building meant it was always going to have to work hard and cost a lot.

But The HEAT Project were able to provide some very quick and helpful improvements, which cost the owner nothing and reduced heating bills by about a third.

You see, there is a little known scheme called LA Flex, with rules set by the local authority (Perth and Kinross Council in our case) that uses money from the energy company ECO scheme to fund energy efficiency improvements.

In this case, loft insulation went from 10cm to over 30cm, and all the bedrooms benefitted from 5cm of insulated plasterboard, followed by a skim coat of plaster and repainting. This is a major improvement over what we found.


Other simple low-cost changes, such as DIY secondary glazing, reduced drafts and also saved energy.

Is this lovely cottage now up to modern standards? No, of course not. But it is warmer, drier, and cheaper to heat. And, at very little cost to the owner, it will meet Scottish Government EPC targets for the foreseeable future.

By Martin Mathers

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