West Cumbrian company Chimney Sheep Ltd has been honoured with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Innovation – with a product using sheep wool.
Now in its 56th year, the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the most prestigious business awards in the country.
There are four categories: innovation, international trade, sustainable development, and promoting opportunity through social mobility.
Some 226 organisations received the award in 2022. Chimney Sheep is one of just 51 to receive the award for innovation.
So what is a Chimney Sheep? It’s a chimney blocker made of felted sheep wool. It lodges in the throat of the chimney when the fire isn’t lit and prevents warm air from the home from being drawn up the chimney. It saves five per cent off household heating bills – that’s £95 at today’s utility prices.
Business owner Sally Phillips invented the product 10 years ago.
In the UK alone there are over 11 million homes built with open chimneys.
She said: “Having an open chimney is a terrible waste of energy. It’s like leaving a window wide open all the time.
“It seemed a no-brainer to develop a chimney blocker made of sheep wool. Wool is a natural insulator, but also breathable, which is important for chimneys in older properties.”
After developing and patenting the Chimney Sheep, Sally took the product to market in 2012 not knowing what demand would be like for her innovation.
Sales have grown year on year. In 2012 some 1,700 were sold. In 2021 more than 35,000 Chimney Sheeps were sold. The cumulative total is now 150,000.
The Chimney Sheep was tested by Liverpool University, which found that it saved an average of five per cent off heating bills.
It’s been tested by BSRIA, which calculated that it saves 250kg CO2 per year. If all 11 million homes in the UK with an open chimney fitted a Chimney Sheep, we would save 2,750,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.
The Energy Savings Trust calculated that draught-proofing the chimney will save £65 off an average annual heating bill. That’s £71,500,000 worth of potential UK savings annually.
The business has grown over the years and now employs 11 people. It sells an increasing range of
environmentally friendly products.
Sally has set up a Community Interest Company called Buy Land Plant Trees with 20 per cent of the profit from Chimney Sheep contributed to it.
To date 180 acres of land has been purchased and planted with 65,000 trees with ambitious plans to increase this year on year.
“I want our customers to feel that not only are they buying products that are beneficial to their home or garden, but also beneficial to the wider environment,” Sally said.
n The award will be presented by the Lieutenant to the Queen at Chimney Sheep’s premises, and Sally Phillips will attend a reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by HRH the Prince of Wales.
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