Project Description

Low Carbon Retrofitting, Together Housing Group

Social landlord Together Housing has about 38,000 properties spread across the north of England. Delivery Manager Jon Schofield and Senior Project Coordinator Sheridan Boyd share how Rothwell Pluming Services is working to decarbonise and improve thousands of those homes.

Ambitious plans

Jon Schofield, Delivery Manager at Together Housing explains: “Together Housing devised a carbon reduction strategy in 2021 that underpins all our investment in energy efficiency across our housing stock, and we’re committed to raising all our properties with an EPC rating band of D or below to band C or above by 2030.

“This strategy has given rise to some major investments in retrofit programmes, particularly in what we call light retrofit: loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and underfloor insulation. We also do deep retrofit, undertaking external wall insulation in non-traditional properties.

“Rothwell Plumbing Services (RPS) is working with us to deliver a major heat pump programme, mostly across Yorkshire, and we’re aiming to install around 1,000 pumps year-on-year We’re almost at the end of year two, and RPS has done a good job for us in my opinion.

“RPS is installing heat pumps, assessing the fabric of the properties – things like loft insulation or cavity insulation.

“I am not aware of another social landlord retrofitting homes at our scale – certainly not in the north of England, and it’s critical that procurement brings in contractors, such as RPS, that have the relevant skills and experience.”

Invaluable experience

Sheridan Boyd, Senior Project Coordinator, Together Housing continues: “My team is responsible for coordinating the eventual retrofit of all 33,000 of Together’s properties.

“Our procurement process placed an emphasis on working with experienced contractors, people who know and understand how to work with landlords and residents.

“RPS’s skills and experience have been invaluable throughout – from undertaking the initial pre-entry surveys through to undertaking the installations and providing ongoing support to individual households.

“RPS works with Together’s internal teams to make sure we understand the new technologies being installed in homes – how they work and how we will manage them in the future.

“But on a project of this scale, it is about learning lessons quickly and as you go and working with a contractor to improve the installations from one home to another. RPS’s experience has been hugely valuable in that process.

“Air and ground source heat pumps can feel counterintuitive to residents compared to traditional gas boilers, particularly when people first start using them, and the challenge can be changing peoples’ mindsets.

“There’s a lot of misinformation out there about heat pumps, so it’s important that, as RPS is commissioning the system in the final stages of the installation, they talk to the customer, and explain how the system works.

“RPS plays an important role in engaging with the customer – setting up systems to suit the needs of the household, as it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation.”

Smart support

Sheriden continues: “Post-installation, RPS has the capability to remotely access analytics on air source heat pumps, monitoring how they are operating and how customers are using them. This is a very useful part of their aftercare programme, and it gets used daily.

“For example, we had a recent situation where a heat pump had been installed in the summer, but by the winter, the customer had forgotten some of the basics. They said: “It’s not working, my radiators aren’t getting hot, my heating is not working.

“RPS checked the settings remotely and made evidence-based recommendations to sort it. We knew it was not a technical issue and that the heating was not set at the right temperature, or they’d turned it off.

“RPS is responsible for heating systems for the first twelve months post-installation, so they are the first port of call for any problems via remote data and diagnostics.

Jon Schofield agrees: “Data is critical as it allows us to work smarter in terms of how we support customers and maintain the pumps – as well as monitoring how the pumps are being used by the tenants.

“We often see instances where tenants are repeatedly switching the system off and on, disrupting the efficiency of the system.

“Remote data access also allows us to diagnose underperforming systems and decide a course of action. This negates the need to initially send an engineer, which saves time and resources, and is more convenient for the customers.

A close working relationship

Sheridan concludes: “We’ve had the time to build a consistent working relationship with RPS, because retrofitting 500 homes a year is a big challenge, so the closer we can work together, the better – and after two years we have a great working relationship.

“RPS has met our expectations on the physical and technical elements of the work, and has also taken clear, honest, and concise approach to resident communications, and inevitably, where lessons have needed to be learnt, has been willing to adjust alongside my team at Together.”

Graham Rothwell, Owner & Founder, RPS added, “Our work with Together has been exceptional, firstly for its sheer scale and ambition, and secondly for the closeness and level of collaboration between our staff.

This teamwork has helped us get the relationship right, from when we first knock on a door to do a design survey, to when we close the job and sign it off.

In social housing, communicating with residents is a skillset on its own, but you don’t need a degree in how to deal with human beings. It’s about treating people the right way and appreciating that you’re in a home, not a house. That side of it will never change for us.”

Project Details




Together Housing Group


Air Source Heat Pump, Cavity Wall Extraction, Cavity Wall Insulation, Loft Insulation, Enabling Works


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