RESIDENTS across Renfrewshire are set to benefit from lower fuel bills this year as an energy efficiency scheme is expanded.

More than 500 people in Johnstone, Kilbarchan, Lochwinnoch, Bridge of Weir, Houston and the Gallowhill area of Paisley have already had external wall insulation work carried out through the Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS) initiative.

Now the programme is being rolled out to more homes in Linwood, Bridge of Weir and other parts of Paisley.

Thermal imaging equipment will be used to identify heat loss from buildings, with a home energy audit also being carried out to check where savings can be made on fuel bills.

Renfrewshire Council secured £2.4million from the Scottish Government to help fund last year’s work, before adding a further £737,000 of its own cash and a £500,000 contribution from energy company Eon, who delivered the improvements.

Among those to benefit is 87-year-old Bridge of Weir grandad Bruce Watt, who has seen his fuel bills plummet while his house stays warm.

Bruce, who worked as a joiner at Bridge of Weir Leather before his retirement, bought his Houston Road flat 17 years ago with his late wife.

He said the energy efficiency scheme has made a huge difference to his finances.

“My bills have come right down and I can put the heating on for an hour, head out and, when I come back home, I still feel the heat right away,” added Bruce.

“The outside of the building looks so much nicer too and, when I’m out, people comment on how great it looks. They can’t believe we didn’t have to pay a penny, thanks to the council.”

All 12 properties in the block of flats where Bruce lives have benefitted from the scheme.

Bruce, who turns 88 on Valentine’s Day, said: “It’s not something I could have afforded to do myself as it would have cost thousands.”

This year’s programme will be delivered through a partnership with Everwarm to housing blocks with a mix of private owners and socially-rented properties.

Councillor Marie McGurk, convener of Renfrewshire’s Communities, Housing and Planning Policy Board, said: “We have worked hard to secure millions in Scottish Government HEEPS funding, directing this to the Renfrewshire residents who need it most.

“The works make a real difference to the warmth and comfort of a home and are estimated to help residents save around 25 per cent on their heating bills – hugely important in tackling fuel poverty.

“There are benefits for the local environment too, with more energy efficient homes reducing our carbon footprint.”

All Renfrewshire residents can get help managing their fuel bills by calling a free advice line on 0808 164 2922.