Our energy work is a permanent feature. It shifts its emphasis according to need and current local and national initiatives. Its basic aim is to reduce carbon emissions by making homes more energy efficient and helping residents to understand how to save energy. It also encourages the installation of microrenewables and community energy initiatives. The Landlords and tenants project is an example of a specific piece of work that comes under this broad heading.
ENERGY TEAM – Forum 21 energy volunteers offer phone advice and home visits (when possible) and people are referred to us from a number of organisations. We cover all energy issues, fuel poverty, finance, home improvements, green suppliers, EPC issues and we use the information system run by the Centre for Sustainable Energy to keep up to date.
CSE have now appointed fuel poverty caseworkers in our area and we are working in partnership with them. They offer two additional support measures – cash to top up a pre-pay meter and free central heating systems for people on low incomes who do not have central heating.
The energy team has 8 volunteers who normally do home visits for people who have asked for help with bills. We assess entitlement for surviving winter grants and ask whether they want cut price wood from the community woodland.
We ask about their energy supplier, and whether they need help with meters, tariffs or finding a cheaper/better supplier.
We advise on the warm home discount for people on low incomes, priority services register for people with health problems, and whether they have adequate heating and good understanding of the controls.
We find out whether they are getting help from other agencies, and may take on cases if there is need for repeat visits or on-going support.
We do a brief survey of their home to see if it could be improved e.g. new or upgraded heating, insulation, draughts, damp, renewable sources of energy. This is a new area of work and we are investigating who can get free/subsidised home improvements through the Eco scheme. We learn about all aspects of our work from the people who we advise and are writing case studies to show both good and bad practice. We have contacted some Eco installers to see what they offer and how the system works. We have found that measures and costs can vary a lot and people not sure what they will get and whether they want it? They would like an overview of measures available so they can make an informed decision.
Progress in bringing in Eco improvements is reported to the people who are advising the councils through SCAN, and they are going to extend the improvements that can be grant funded by introducing Eco flex. There is not much help for people who can pay.