Circle Housing is one of the UK’s largest providers of social housing with over 66,000 homes. Its wider mission is to enhance people’s life-chances, helping them to overcome challenges and seize opportunities to improve their quality of life. Delivering ‘social value’ – factors such as community cohesion and purpose that can be measured in non-financial terms – is central to achieving the aim of being a responsible and sustainable business. For that reason, Circle housing is one of the UK’s first housing groups to develop its own model for measuring Social Return on Investment (SROI). The SROI model suggests that for every £1 of social investment they make, their communities derive benefits worth £14. Its aim is to be a responsible and sustainable business by improving their economic performance, reducing their environmental impact and delivering as much social value as possible over the short, medium and long term.


To help residents reduce their energy consumption and associated bill without impairing their well-being at home.


73% of families across the UK turned off their heating at some point last winter to cut their energy bills. One in four (23%) admitted to cutting their heating frequently and more than a third believe that turning the heating off had negatively affected their health or quality of life

In addition, Circle Housing research carried out in December 2013 found that as many as 2.5 million adults across the UK planned to take out a loan over the Christmas period just to pay their winter energy bills. This is an issue that spans the spectrum of households across the UK, but those in social housing are particularly affected, as they are more likely to be on a lower income with only 44% of social housing tenants in employment compared to 69% of people who rent privately.

Living in a cold home and finding it difficult to afford the heating bills has a range of impacts for Circle Housing customers, including lowering their quality of life, affecting their health and wellbeing and the amount of disposal income available for things like food.


To address this double challenge of energy saving and fuel poverty, Circle Housing has defined a global “Energy Saving and Warm Homes” strategy, based on the following commitments:

  • Provide homes that are energy efficient
  • Support customers to live in comfort and affordably heat their homes
  • Enable customers to save energy and save money where possible
  • Enhance life chances through improved health, opportunities and finances.

In addition to technical measures aimed at improving dwellings’ energy efficiency (air source heat pumps, insulation), a great focus is placed on residents, through a set of actions:

Resident Energy Champions: 50 Resident Energy Champions have been recruited and trained. They share tips and ideas with other customers to help them reduce their energy consumption and save money on their energy bills. Resident Energy Champions share five simple ‘top tips’ that could save customers up to £250 per year on their energy bills.

The materials used by the Energy Champions were developed together with a group of residents. All Resident Energy Champions have been provided accredited training to give them the skills to take on this role.

“My Home Energy Switch”: A partnership with the National Housing Federation was established to provide “My Home Energy Switch”: Circle Housing customers and staff can receive free, impartial advice about switching to a cheaper energy supplier.

Understanding residents’ behaviour for an optimal use of the Passivhaus technology: In parallel, Cicle Housing is currently building the UK’s largest Passivhaus scheme in the social housing sector, consisting of 51 units. Once the residents move in, a monitoring will be implemented to understand the experiences and satisfaction of living in a Passivhaus home so as to draw lessons from this first project and understand the Passivhaus technology can be used to develop future energy efficient homes.

Key results and benefits

  • Since April 2013: energy saving advice shared with nearly 2,000 households byResident Energy Champions, with a potential to save around £ 250 per year
  • Collectively, a potential of around 2,000 carbon tonnes saved through Resident Energy Champions’ advice
  • Initial anecdotal evaluation has shown that the Energy Champions have personally benefitted through developing greater confidence and self-esteem
  • In 2013/14: an average saving of £ 130 per switch for customers using Circle Housing’s My Home Energy Switch
  • Collectively: nearly £ 45,000 saved by customers and colleagues through this service
  • In addition, approximately £ 400 saved each year by customers through the 50 air source heat pumps

European Responsible Housing Awards 2014

Modalidad Environmental sustainability