Kath Manning, Redditch Borough Council an our very own Deputy Chief executive Rachel Jones accepting the award for services to energy efficient and healthy homes.
(Picture courtesy of the Redditch Advertiser)
The BBC have published an article on the Green Homes Grant today repeating requests from organisations calling for it to be extended past the current March deadline.
The Green Homes Grant is a scheme which can provide either up to £5000 or £10,000 worth of low carbon improvements but requires work to be completed before the end of March. We’ve written an FAQ to how the scheme works here. The scheme launched in September is a scheme designed to support householders in improving insulation and providing low carbon heating systems such as Air Source or Ground Source heating. One option people have contacted us about during the scheme is external wall insulation as this can be an expensive measure on its own.
The scheme has had problems however; It has occured at a time when many insulation and heating contractors are busy and when weather often isn’t suitable for some types of external wall insulation.
Trading Standards are warning that scams targeting homeowners with promises about the Green Homes Grant scheme started appearing just days after the new home energy efficiency scheme was announced by the government.
Nationally, there have already been reports that some homeowners have received scam calls, emails and texts telling them that they are eligible for the grants, while other scams have claimed to offer specific energy-saving measures such as insulation.
The genuine Green Homes Grant scheme will launch in September.
The government is yet to announce full details but what is known so far is that homeowners in England will be able to access up to £5,000 of vouchers to make energy-saving improvements. The vouchers will pay for at least two thirds of eligible measures and could cover updates to insulation, boilers and glazing.
If you want to participate in the scheme, you will need to apply online, choose from recommended energy efficiency measures, and use an accredited trades person.
You will get a voucher once the trader has provided a quote and the work is approved.
However, until full details of the scheme are announced, it’s impossible to say whether your planned home improvement project will be eligible.
Roll-out to the scheme will be done locally, and it will be up to the homeowner to make the approach.
No cold calling will be involved so you will instantly know it is a scam if you get a call or text out of the blue.
This isn’t the first time scammers have targeted energy efficiency schemes. Many appeared around the Green Deal scheme in 2013, which also helped homeowners to finance energy-saving measures.
At the time, a number of individuals and companies were prosecuted for unfair consumer practices.
Trading Standards advise that with this new Green Homes Grant, keep an eye out for government announcements on what the grant will include and how to access it.
You won’t be able to sign up before it launches in September.
Residents should remain cautious if you receive any phone calls, texts, emails or doorstep calls from any traders assuring you that you or your property will be eligible for the scheme at present.
Our advice is as always not to buy or commit to anything based on a cold call.
Trading Standards also urge residents with elderly or vulnerable family or neighbours to make them aware of the danger of such calls.
If you would like general support or advice to making your home more energy efficient, contact:
Act on Energy
Tel: 0800 988 2881
Reporting of the proposed ‘New Deal’ by the UK government post coronavirus has been reported to not reference the governments past pledge to decarbonise UK homes. Understandably; this is of concern to sustainability and energy advice organisations.
The article references some assistance given by Act on Energy to a client in assisting him with conversion of old storage heaters to a mains gas heating system. Click the image below to read more
During the Lockdown, you’re likely to be using more energy to heat your home.
To reduce your usage, you could try and keep heating to a minimum during work hours if working from home and dress in warmer, comfortable clothes instead of turning up the heat.
Consider the type of heating you have in your home too and the way it’s monitored and controlled, heating controls and thermostats can help you maintain a regular temperature rather than highs and lows and save you money. Resolving issues with draughty spaces is also a good way to improve heat retention in a room, letter box brushes and door brushes that can be fitted to the bottom of doors all help to reduce wasted heat from ending up outside.
The biggest energy saving tip with lighting is also the most obvious! Turn lights off in rooms you’re not using.
If you’re working from home, try to position yourself in a lighter area by a window to let in natural light and make sure your curtains are all open to let in light and heat. Consider how you light an area, if you’ve got efficient ceiling light but have a lamp you prefer to read/work beside; check to make sure you’re using an LED bulb in your reading light and not an older style of lightbulb. Standing lamps and reading lights might be using more energy than lighting your whole room lighting if the bulb in a lamp is an older type of bulb.
If you have a garden or outdoor space, you could try working outdoors. This is good for your physical and mental health in addition to saving money.
Most energy used in a washing machine is used to heat water rather than spinning the washing. By washing at 30°C rather than 40°C, you’re using less energy per wash. Some newer machines even allow you to wash at 20 °C reducing the need to heat water even further. Washing full loads, less frequently is a much more efficient way to wash clothing than frequently washing when the machine is half full.
Washing and Bathing
Heating water is expensive so when showering; consider fitting a low energy shower head, these work by reducing water wastage in the shower so less water needs to be heated to give you the same wash, some energy saving shower heads can also increase the mix of air in water jets giving you a softer shower.
Electronics and Entertainment
Televisions and computers can use a large amount of electricity to run and still use energy when left on standby. Switching appliances off rather than leaving them on standby can save you money. A few devices in the home on standby can use more than you might think over the course of the year so consider turning off your phone chargers, games consoles, Wi-Fi routers and other small devices before you go to bed to save money while those items are not in use.
Why not look at comparing your energy tariff online? You’ve likely got all the info you need at your fingertips. There are several websites to compare with and you might even find an even more competitive tariff with your current supplier through a comparison site than going to them direct. The information you’ll need to prepare to compare is your current annual usage in kWh (gas and electric for most people) and the name and end date of your current tariff. You can find this information on your bill or by ringing your supplier. It’s easy to do and could save you hundreds of pounds.
Covid 19 and your Energy Supply
OFGEM have written a handy guide on the responsibilities of energy providers during the lockdown and worries that many people may have during the current period. This can be found here.
If you’re unsure of how to switch or are in need of energy advice during or after the lockdown just contact us on our freephone advice line on 0800 988 2881.
Since the lockdown as a response to Coronavirus organisations have had to adapt to how they provide their normal services and interact with clients. While much of Act On Energy’s activities have continued as usual we have had to make changes to face to face advice sessions and home visits as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
To continue our home visits during the lockdown period we’re conducting Virtual Home Visits through our freephone advice line; discussing energy saving advice with residents as and when needed. These are longer phone calls than usual owing to the more in depth nature of a home visit and if busy we will agree with you when we will call.
As usual; all advice and queries can be directed to our freephone advice line on 0800 988 2881.
The options below are primarily for pre-payment meters; the type that is topped up with a key or a card. Energy companies have agreed that during this time emergency credit on such meters can be expanded or other options can be agreed with suppliers for those self-isolating and unable to get to a pay-point. Although the companies can in some cases organise postal top-up cards and keys; they’re wanting to try and restrict this offer to the most vulnerable; i.e. those that do not have friends and family that can assist them so they can be prompt in arriving where it is most needed.
Smart pre-payment meters can be topped up remotely so can function as normal during this time. Debt relief was discussed by various companies and the government but little information is present so it is worth asking your energy supplier if you are struggling with paying for energy. Seeking debt relief is more likely available for those with credit meters (the type with a monthly or quarterly bill).
British Gas – 0333 202 9802
British Gas’ website is vague about details but have said they will deal with individual cases if contacted by phone.
Bulb – 0300 303 0635
Can pay remotely and have a card sent if family and friends are unable to assist you.
EDF – 0333 200 5100
EDF have said that they have a relaxed policy on disconnections for those that have run out of credit to stop power from shutting off overnight. They request that if you do not have friends and family nearby to assist; you can contact them to look at alternatives.
E.On – 0345 052 0000
Advises friends of family to top up meters. In some cases it can provide top up cards or an engineer can visit to top up meters.
Npower – 0800 073 3000
Npower advises customers to ask family and friends. If unable they advise you contact them but do not provide further details
Octopus – 0808 163 1088
Octopus also advise calling them if you are unable to get hold of family and friends to top up for you. They have increased the level you can use emergency credit.
OVO – 0330 303 5063
OVO have requested that people use the digital app or online chat options to allow the most vulnerable to use the phone lines. They suggest using this phone number for those in debt.
Scottish Power – 0800 027 0072
Scottish power have advised people contact them if they are unable to get friends and family to add funds to their meters.
SSE (Now owned by OVO) – 0345 026 2658
SSE have a list of options on their website. For those in debt they advise contacting their call centre but note phones will take longer than usual to answer.
Utility Warehouse – 0333 777 0777
Utility warehouse specifies that they have reduced phone support. They advise that pre-pay customers will receive a letter from them outlining options.
We have previously made a series of posts relating to measures to help vulnerable people in fuel poverty during the coronavirus pandemic but water companies are also providing assistance to vulnerable customers. ITV news have reported this in the last few days and it would appear that this sits alongside the currently existing big difference scheme we at Act on Energy encourage those worried about money to investigate.
Misinformation about the impact of Coronavirus is spread on social media and by word of mouth. This is as true with the energy sector as it is with medicine and health.
National Grid have put together a Q and A about electricity distribution in Britain and the effect of coronavirus on the grid. Some may find it surprising to hear that electricity use during the pandemic has dropped across the country. Although use has risen throughout the day in our homes with people working from home; industrial and business use has dropped by a greater level.
Increased use at home is however going to increase the average energy bill though, if you’re concerned you can contact us on our freephone advice line for advice and suggestions.
Yesterday the government announced a list of business closures in updated Covid-19 guidance for the public available here. This includes non-essential shops and businesses and public spaces including libraries and community centres not currently in use for emergency services.
Many contractors will not be working other than those providing essential services; Michael Gove yesterday in an example of ‘essential’ included repairwork to a broken heating system as coming under the term and we will work with contractors offering such services. Energy saving measures can be discussed with us on our freephone advice line but these will not be offered in the short term.
We have also been informed that the Warm Homes Fund has been suspended for the time being.
While Act On Energy is cannot attend library and community advice sessions we will continue our freephone advice line.
New emergency measures with the energy industry have been agreed by the government to protect the domestic energy supply of those most in need during the disruption caused by COVID-19.
Customers with pre-payment meters who may not be able to add credit can speak to their supplier about options to keep them supplied. This could include nominating a third party for credit top ups, having a discretionary fund added to their credit, or being sent a pre-loaded top up card so that their supply is not interrupted.
More broadly, any energy customer in financial distress will also be supported by their supplier, which could include debt repayments and bill payments being reassessed, reduced or paused where necessary, while disconnection of credit meters will be completely suspended.
Customers that are unable to top up their pre-payment meter are advised to contact their supplier immediately to discuss how they can be kept on supply. Ofgem recommends consumers leave the meter box unlocked if they need someone else to top up the meter. Smart meter customers should be able to top-up remotely, such as by phone, mobile application or online.
Further information about the Government’s announcement is here.
Follow this link for more information:
With Climate Change once again (finally!) becoming the hot topic on everyone’s lips, here at AOE we are so pleased to highlight an exciting news story from last week. The UK have had 2 weeks free of coal powered electricity!
We’ve all heard the benefits of using electricity over petrol to run our cars, or electric hobs over gas ones but as it stands in the UK currently we do not produce our electricity in the cleanest way possible. This is just one step closer to improving our energy infrastructure and reducing our carbon footprint.
Out and about in Solihull today in our electric vehicle and found a lovely note that we thought was definitely worth sharing!
Thank you very much EV Thank You!
We encourage everyone to support this great cause championing electric vehicles!
The Energy Company Obligation – ECO – is one of several key policies the government instigated to deliver the Clean Growth Strategy. This states that the government will consider “the best form of support for home energy efficiency beyond 2022, recognising the need to save carbon and upgrade all fuel poor homes to Band C by 2030. There will be support for home energy efficiency to 2028 at least at the current level of ECO funding”.
The scheme is administered by Ofgem on behalf of the Department for Energy Business & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Act on Energy can advise you on whether you are eligible and how to access funding.
The last change to the scheme occurred in 2017 and was known as ECO2t. The Government Response to the ECO3 consultation, governing the future of ECO from October 2018 to March 2022, is now published:
OTHER THINGS TO NOTE:
Following the recent cold snaps and forecasts that more freezing temperatures could be on the way, comes the news of some welcome assistance to households in the district who may be struggling to pay their heating bills or striving to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
Late last year Warwick District Council joined neighbours Nuneaton and Bedworth, Rugby and North Warwickshire Borough Councils by signing up to ‘ECO Flex’. This scheme aims to help more households on a low income out of fuel poverty, including those that may not have previously qualified for help.
The initiative is being run in partnership with Act on Energy, an energy conservation charity who provides free advice to householders in Warwickshire, from fuel switching to installing heating and insulation measures.
Warwick District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Health and Community Protection, Councillor Andrew Thompson commented;
“I am delighted that Warwick District Council is participating in the ECO Flex scheme. Although ECO (Energy Company Obligation) funding is already available to households on means tested benefits, signing up to the ‘flex’ element, will enable us to provide financial assistance to other vulnerable residents not necessarily on benefits such as those on a low income, with a disability or health condition or on a pre-payment meter.”
Since signing up to the scheme several applications have already been made for low income households in the district. This has resulted in four homes receiving new energy efficient boilers and one loft insulation across Warwick District council area, plus many more in the rest of the county.
Pictured from left to right signing up to ECO Flex , Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council’s Private Sector Housing Manager, Rob Watson, Warwick District Council’s Chief Executive Chris Elliott and Portfolio Holder for Health and Community Protection, Councillor Andrew Thompson
For more information and to find out if you are eligible for the scheme please call Act on Energy Tel 0800 988 2881 or fill out our contact form.
THIS SCHEME HAS ALSO BEEN ROLLED OUT ACROSS STRATFORD DISTRICT, WORCESTERSHIRE COUNTY AND SOLIHULL BOROUGH, for any information on any of these call us on 0800 988 2881 or fill out our contact form.
With British Gas reporting yesterday that they were to increase their electricity prices, now might be the perfect time to Switch!
If you are on a standard tariff with British Gas or your fixed tariff is soon to be coming to an end you will see you electricity prices rise. To find out more about switching and to see if you could save call us on 0800 988 2881 or visit us at one of our local advice surgeries, these can be found on our website or advertised in your local library.
If you live outside our area you can still switch but call your local council to find out who can help you
We would like to introduce our two fantastic new staff members:
Joe Brookes Richard Milward
If you would like to speak to either of these staff members or anybody else in the office please call us on 0800 988 2881
SeSaME (Sedgeberrow Sustainable and Manageable Energy Group) along with help from Act on Energy have won 2 awards in the Wychavon Intelligently Green Awards. Coming not only top in the ‘Community group category’ but also being named overall winners of the entire awards.
Read what SeSaME have to say about this:
‘SeSaME aims to open up a treasure trove of renewable energy, informing, encouraging and supporting a sustainable village community exploring, and where possible, acting on the activities shown below
a) We seek to assist villagers in estimating their electricity consumption and give them advice about reducing it, where needed. We have electricity monitors to lend out to those villagers who want to check how useful they are before they spend their money on one. We will offer advice to villagers about reducing waste and improving the insulation of their property. This year a partnership with the County and District Councils and local Act on Energy has led to external insulation grants for the owners of 18 old houses. A total of £58,977.15 (ECO and GDC funding) has benefitted Sedgeberrow village. That works out to a carbon saving of over 400tonnes CO2 over the lifetime of the products.
b) We have investigated the best options for and the viability of a Generator harnessing the energy of the River Isbourne, liaising closely with the Village Flood Group. We had a site visit and consultation provided by the Sharenergy Co-operative, funded by the Marches Energy Agency, that revealed it not to be feasible.
c) We want to look at ways of maximizing solar panel use and facilitating a corporate village approach to fundraising and construction. We will support the Village Hall action plan, helping to look at all other alternative energy sources for the Hall.
The years 2015 & 2016 have seen us co-ordinate the installation of Solar panels for both the Village Hall and the School, the former benefiting from new air source to water central heating with a £10,000 grant from “Welcome to Our Future”, and upgraded insulation, also grant aided. At the same time 18 private houses have received external wall insulation’
To find out more information on SeSaME and other projects they are involved in click here.
To find out more about the Wychavon Intelligently Green awards and other winners click here.
Kath Manning, Redditch Borough Council an our very own Deputy Chief executive Rachel Jones accepting the award for services to energy efficient and healthy homes.
(Picture courtesy of the Redditch Advertiser)
Redditch Borough Council has been named ‘council of the year’ and has been highly commended for its work to help people improve their homes.
The local authority was a runner-up in the ‘vulnerable customer support campaigner’ category at the West Midlands Regional Energy Efficiency & Healthy Homes Awards in Birmingham last week.
Our partner Kath Manning who works as the climate change and energy support officer at Redditch Borough Council, said: “We’re delighted to be recognised for helping homeowners reduce their energy bills, tackle fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions.
“The Redditch Energy Efficiency Fund is designed to help people to put better, cheaper heating systems in their homes and can also help with loft and cavity insulation.
“Homeowners with a household income under the Worcestershire average of £37,000 may be eligible for £500 towards the cost of replacing an old boiler, and those on low incomes may be eligible for much more.”
For more information on this or other types of support, call 0800 988 2881.
PRIMARY JOB FUNCTION
To provide comprehensive fuel poverty, energy efficiency and environmental advisory service to the public, both face to face and via telephone help lines. Energy efficiency information will be a primary role; however advice on all other environmental issues may be provided.
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
To find out how to apply for this amazing opportunity click here and follow the instructions. Closing date for applications is Friday 12th May 2017.
Cheaper energy tariffs could soon be available as part of a new scheme allowing Wyre Forest residents to use their collective bargaining power to get a better deal.
The Wyre Forest Big Energy Switch is launched today. Backed by Wyre Forest District Council, the scheme will negotiate competitive prices with energy companies on behalf of local residents. Residents will be able to register their interest in the scheme before a competitive process to find the best deal for the group. Those who have registered their interest will then be given a personalised offer showing how much could be saved by switching.
Those who register for the scheme can consider the offer before deciding whether or not to switch suppliers and there is no charge to join the scheme.
Welcoming the move Wyre Forest District Council’s Principal Health and Sustainability Officer Jennifer Moreton said: “This initiative will give residents the chance to get a really good energy deal and makes it easy for them to switch if they wish to.
“Some residents may be paying too much, particularly if they haven’t switched supplier for a while, so I’d encourage everyone to sign up and see what offer they receive. Indeed, collective energy switching is dependent on the number of people who do register so the more people we can encourage to take part the lower the tariff will be for everyone involved.”
The amount of money that can be saved will vary depending on individual factors such as the current tariff, payment method, consumption and the winning bid. There is no guarantee that an offer will be the cheapest but the model aims to ensure the majority of participants are offered lower annual energy bills than they are currently paying or are available at the time of the offer.
If you want to take part you should visit www.wyreforestdc.gov.uk/BigEnergySwitch
You will need to have your latest energy bill handy as you’ll need the details during the registration process. Registration is open until Monday 22 May with individual offers emailed to residents from Monday 5thJune, 2017.
For more information visit the www.wyreforestdc.gov.uk/BigEnergySwitch or call the Big Community Switch 0800 048 8285.