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PROPTECH-X ‘Proptech & Property News’: Home setup service raises $5m | New zero-carbon housing development

Octopus Energy and ilke Homes tie-up to guarantee zero energy bills

Octopus Energy and ilke Homes have entered into a world-first strategic partnership to roll out the UK’s first homes to guarantee residents zero energy bills.

The two pioneering British tech firms are launching the partnership on a site in Essex where ilke Homes is delivering the UK’s largest zero-carbon housing development.

As part of the launch, initially two factory-built homes are being installed in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex. They will come equipped with an air source heat pump, solar panels and battery storage technology. The low-carbon technologies will combine to provide free, clean energy round the clock, with Octopus Energy providing a bespoke tariff.

The homes have been launched as part of ilke ZERO, the UK’s first mainstream zero-carbon housing offering, and comes as ilke Homes grows its pipeline to 3,500 homes – in a sign that modular housing is quickly becoming a mainstream solution to housing delivery.

The two-bedroom semi-detached family homes – being delivered in partnership with Gresham House and SO Resi – form part of a wider 153-home scheme, branded Hope Green. 101 of these homes will be zero-carbon in operation – the most delivered on a single site in the UK – meaning they will generate their own source of energy, helping to drastically reduce emissions produced by utilities such as electricity and heating.

Bills rose for millions of families in April because of an increase in the energy price cap, which is the maximum price that suppliers in England, Wales and Scotland can charge households. This meant an average increase of £693 for around 18 million households on standard tariffs – and £708 for 4.5 million prepayment customers.

But the cost-of-living crisis is set to deepen even further come October after Ofgem’s chief executive, Jonathan Brearley, told MPs on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee that he would write to the chancellor telling him he expected the energy price cap to be “in the region of £2,800” when it is reviewed later this year. In response the Chancellor has announced a package of short-term measures to support households with increased bills this winter.

The first two ZERO bills homes, which will be made available for shared ownership, have been precision-engineered along production lines at ilke Homes’ factory in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire.

By harnessing artificial intelligence, robotics, and digital design, the modular housing company is capable of creating homes that are incredibly well insulated, meaning less heat escapes and consequently reducing bills. High-performing building fabric is deemed essential for the performance of low-carbon technologies.

To reach the ZERO bills specification, as it is branded, ilke Homes on behalf of Gresham House will install low-carbon technologies to provide cheap, clean energy. Solar panels on the roof will generate electricity for the home and its heat pump, which provides all heating and hot water.

The homes will also be equipped with battery technology to store any excess green electricity the solar panels generate. By using a battery, the home will be able to store this energy for later use.

Launched in July 2021, ilke ZERO aims to deliver thousands of operational zero-carbon homes per year for major investors, housing associations, and councils across the UK. The homes have already been trialled in London, Newcastle, Gateshead, Newark, and Sunderland, and are now ready to be rolled out en masse.

Giles Carter, CEO at ilke Homes, said: “Our strategic partnership with Octopus Energy Group is the next milestone on our ilke ZERO journey. The premise of this partnership is to both empower consumers, who are faced with one of the worst cost-of-living crises in decades, and demonstrate that net-zero and construction can work hand in hand.

“Thanks to years of intensive research and development, we have successfully created a ready-to-go, highly energy-efficient solution to housing delivery – one which will help investors future-proof investments against government policy, help meet strict ESG criteria, and allow for revenue streams to be accessed as quick as possible due to a significant reduction in construction programmes.”

Greg Jackson, founder of Octopus Energy Group, said: “This breakthrough partnership debunks a long-standing myth – that cleaner energy will mean higher bills for consumers. Instead, people living in these homes won’t be paying for energy at all.

“This is yet another demonstration that clean energy is cheap energy, and the best answer to the fossil fuel crisis is accelerating the transition to renewables.”

Alistair Wardell, Investment Director at Gresham House, said: “Our deal with ilke Homes provides an innovative and much-needed solution to the historic undersupply of shared ownership housing in the Southeast of England. Gresham House is committed to helping alleviate the shortage of affordable housing in the UK and to delivering sustainable and innovative solutions to this problem.

“This project will deliver real-world benefits to residents in Hope Green and is another step on the journey towards widespread development of net zero residential homes across the UK.”

Kush Rawal, Director of Residential Investment at SO Resi, said: “The housing sector clearly has a big part to play in driving down carbon emissions and moving towards more sustainable methods of construction and environmentally friendly homes. However, we have always stressed that it is important to strike a balance and work with partners such as ilke Homes and Gresham House to ensure a move to green living remains affordable for the consumer, otherwise we risk creating a two-tier society where being sustainable is only for those who can afford it.

“Innovations such as those within Hope Green put sustainability at their very core and go above and beyond what is expected – particularly within the affordable homes sector. Our priority is always to ensure housing remains accessible to those who need it most, and it is an exciting milestone that the pioneering bill free house will be available through shared ownership rather than to the highest bidder.”

PRESS RELEASE: Just Move In raises $5 million in funding round

  • Fast-growing startup Just Move In raises $5 million (£4 million) in latest round, which also includes follow-on investment from Simon Rogerson and Chris Hulatt, founders of Octopus Group
  • Its technology platform helps save people time, hassle and money during the home move process
  • Just Move In is at the forefront of responsible entrepreneurship, balancing profit with purpose as a Certified B Corporation

Home setup service Just Move In, which counts Hamptons, Openrent, and Pickfords among its clients, has raised a new funding round totalling $5 million (£4 million) led by Longbrook Ventures and Love Ventures.

The round was supported by Mountside Ventures, alongside a crowdfunding round with follow-on investments from a host of angels, including the two co-founders of Octopus Group, Simon Rogerson and Chris Hulatt. John Browett, the former CEO of Dixons – and now Just Move In Chairman – has also invested.

The company makes moving in and out of a home easier — whether you’re renting or buying — by giving customers a platform to manage a wide range of services, from setting up the broadband and informing the council of the new address, to recommending removals and storage companies.

Movers are supported by ‘Move Specialists’, who can assist with any questions that might arise during the process. Just Move In is building technology to automate as much of the move-in/out administration as possible, streamlining the registration and payment process with dozens of suppliers.  

Andrew Gale, Founder of Longbrook Ventures, says: “Just Move In is providing an innovative, frictionless solution to an extremely cumbersome problem that all movers face. I am confident that with this team’s passion and hunger, they will build on the impressive traction already achieved to date and deliver an exceptional outcome for all.”

Just Move In co-founder Ross Nichols says: “Moving home is one of the most stressful things you’ll ever do, and on average, we each move home 11 times during the course of our lives. Just Move In exists to make moving home hassle-free.”

Where possible, Just Move In partners with ethical businesses and works exclusively with green energy companies, including Octopus Energy. Just Move In is proud to be a Certified B Corporation, meaning it is a business that meets the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.

Just Move In co-founder Tom Old says: “We believe in the three Ps principle – people, planet and prosperity. We are proud to be part of the growing community of B Corps across the world, which are proving that for-profit companies can be a force for good and that business leaders can work together to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.”

The Home Setup Service is free to anyone referred to Just Move In via one of its corporate partners, and optional upgrades are available during the registration process. The company plans to launch a direct to consumer proposition in late 2022.

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Andrew Stanton Founder & Editor of 'PROPTECH-X' where his insights, connections, analysis and commentary on proptech and real estate are based on writing 1.3M words annually. Plus meeting 1,000 Proptech founders, critiquing 400 decks and having had 130 clients as CEO of 'PROPTECH-PR', a consultancy for Proptech founders seeking growth and exit strategies. He also acts as an advisory for major global real estate companies on sales, acquisitions, market positioning & operations. With 100K followers & readers, he is the 'Proptech Realestate Influencer.'