Setting up a franchised replica of the C.H.E.E.S.E. Project in your area

The majority of people are now aware of the climate crisis, but many do not realise that 30% of UK energy use is within homes. Our project enables substantial cuts in energy loss at very low cost. We are receiving more and more enquiries from individuals, climate action NGOs, housing associations, councils, etc about how to set up a local C.H.E.E.S.E. Project replica. They recognise that an internal thermal-imaging survey of domestic properties, as the first step in building appraisal, is the way to achieve highly-targeted, cost-effective, energy-loss reduction. Our low-cost survey methodology is far more informative than an EPC and is also highly effective in stimulating retrofitting. Two thirds of our clients take remedial action within a month, and over 87% within a year.

We are now delighted to report that we have been awarded a substantial grant from Energy For Tomorrow (a Centrica initiative) over three years to develop our new franchising company First Thermal Ltd, which will replicate The C.H.E.E.S.E. Project UK wide. Our current task is to develop C.H.E.E.S.E to be sustainable without grant income (except for free surveys to those in fuel poverty). It is now both a testbed and pilot franchisee to develop a self-sustaining business model. We are now also seeking other pilot franchisees to aid in this process while delivering surveys. Future franchisees will thus receive a fully-tested, proven, business model which they need to follow exactly as instructed in the future franchise manual. They will pay a modest entry management fee and will be able to sustain their business by charging for their surveys. Royalties on their survey income will be paid to First Thermal Ltd to sustain its running costs. We plan low-cost rental of our newly developed Heatview camera and blower-door equipment, optimally designed in-house for the job, free training, recently updated to be mostly online, and a sophisticated survey booking and payment system. We plan to grant exclusive local licenses for First Thermal surveys to our franchisees.

Working within government Covid guidelines, and with the safety of our staff and clients foremost, we have restarted surveying while our business model is developed over the next few months. We will endeavour to keep start-up costs for franchisees to the minimum, but they will have to have considerable scale to cover their costs (for example of a survey manager) and they must be sustainable long term. Our pricing structure will include payment from sales to local surveyors, who are trained for free. Thus it may be to the advantage of small climate NGOs to form alliances with their neighbours. In the meantime, we recommend that climate action NGOs wanting to set up a local franchise should seek opportunities for funding to cover their core costs. Paid-for surveys provide income, but we will require a proportion of surveys to be conducted for free to assist the fuel poor. We will continue to lobby for central government funding to assist with these costs. The Lottery Awards for All is another potential source of funds for community-led groups.

It is important to our social benefit aims that our franchised replicas remain independent of those carrying out retrofitting businesses, and are engaged with the local community. They will need to be a registered legal body such as a co-operative or CIC. This is a grass-roots-up project, and as such is trusted by local householders.

We will update this page as further detail becomes available. In the meantime if you want to register your interest please email info@cheeseproject.co.uk.

December 2021.