Since achieving city status in 2012, Chelmsford has been going places. Its popularity and profile has risen exponentially over the past five years, from a convenient commuter-belt town to a thriving residential, leisure and business hub in its own right.
The city has certainly seen its fair share of change over recent decades. In the mid-20th century, it was famous for its pioneering manufacturers, such as Marconi, Hoffman’sand Britvic. However, over the years, these gradually disappeared, with each either closing down or moving away as the new millennium dawned, and at the time, many locals feared that the Chelmsford they had grown up in was going into terminal decline.
A quarter of a century has now passed since Marconi closed its doors for the last time, but today, Chelmsford is thriving like never before. The city has established its position as one of the best places to live and work in the 21st century, and in 2007, Channel 4’s television programme “Location, Location, Location” declared Chelmsford the 8th best place to live in the UK.
Population and Housing
Chelmsford, as it stands today, can date its history back to the 12th Century, when it sprang up as a convenient trading post along the main London to Colchester road (or as we call it today, the A12). Yet, as anyone who remembers the 1980s TV show “Chelmsford 123” will know, the old Roman town of Caesaromagus that lies beneath present-day Moulsham Street means that the city actually has a history spanning around 2,000 years.
A long history paired up with rapid modern-day growth always presents an interesting picture when it comes to housing, and the case of Chelmsford is no different. The city’s population has doubled over the past 45 years, from 60,000 in 1972 to 120,000 today, living in around 75,000 households. As such, it will come as no surprise that both the housing needs and electrical demands of homes in Chelmsford have seen a significant change in recent years.
In its 2013 strategic housing assessment, Chelmsford City Council identified that at the time of their study, there were approximately 65,500 dwellings in the City Centre. The study found that more than 60 percent of households live in detached or semi-detached houses, while just over 20 percent live in terraced houses.
The number of households living in flats stood at 17 percent, but the most recent new developments in the regenerated West End area of the city and along Parkway in the centre of the city, are likely to push this number closer to the national average of 20 percent.
While the report did not go into detail as to the age of dwellings, it is clear to anyone taking a walk or drive around Chelmsford’s streets that there is the wide range of properties, old and new, that you would expect for a city where a long history is coupled with recent regeneration. This ranges from the traditional Victorian terraces in the Old Moulsham area to the newest apartments and penthouses at the University end of town and in the redeveloped Friar’s House, close to the cricket ground. The electrical demands of homes in Chelmsford will vary as broadly as the homes themselves. Let’s take a closer look.
A number of factors come into play when we look to evaluate the electrical demands of homes in Chelmsford. These include the size of the property, its energy efficiency and the habits and lifestyle of its inhabitants. We will examine each of these in turn:
Size matters: The size of the property is, of course, a significant factor. Intuitively, a bigger building demands more power when it comes to heating or cooling, but there is also the fact that the larger the property, the more people that are likely to be living in it. That means more lights on, phones charging, gadgets plugged in and various other energy-consuming factors.
Age and efficiency: While the type and size of home certainly correlate with its energy usage, it does not define it. The efficiency of a property can also have a huge impact on overall electricity bills. This in itself depends on two sub-factors: the age of the property and its level of insulation, double glazing and so on.
The fact is undeniable that an old property is going to be less energy efficient than a new one. Modern building materials and construction methods all have the latest energy-saving technology in mind, and it is impossible to compare these with Victorian construction methods.
It is quite common that you’ll find electricians operating throughout Chelmsford will need to re-wire an entire property and bring the efficiency of the property up to modern standards.
However, that is not to say that old properties are doomed to leak warmth through the walls and roof as quickly as you generate it – it simply means that owners of older properties need to be even more assiduous when it comes to ensuring their home is properly insulated. There are still government grants available to help with insulation costs, so there is really no excuse not to.
Lifestyle and habits: The third factor has nothing to do with the property itself and everything to do with the people living in it. We have all known families who might live in a large house but are supremely ecologically conscious. They buy the most energy-efficient appliances and systems and are cautious as to their use.
On the flip side, we can probably think of people who live in a small apartment but seem to have the lights, TV, washing machine and dishwasher running almost all the time. Which of these properties has the greater energy demands of homes in Chelmsford?
A City of Diversity
It is fair to say that the City of Chelmsford has seen enormous change and evolution over its two thousand year history, and more specifically, over the past 50 years. No doubt it will continue to evolve beyond the recognition of its current inhabitants over the years to come.
The housing and energy demands in the city are as diverse as the people themselves and hang on a broad range of factors.