Posted: 12.01.21 at 15:09 by Mendip District Council
With the Covid-19 lockdown underway and freezing weather outside, Mendip District Council is encouraging all residents, particularly the most vulnerable, to pick up the phone to get free personal advice to keep their homes warm, reduce energy costs and save money.
The call marks this year's Big Energy Saving Winter, a national campaign from Citizens Advice, Energy Saving Trust and BEIS to help people get the financial support and energy saving advice they are entitled to.
The latest Public Health England (PHE) advice states the groups of people who are at greatest risk of harm from the cold weather (such as the very old, the young, people living with a long term health condition, pregnant women) can also be those at greater risk of severe illness from Covid-19.
Contributing factors include greater exposure to cold temperatures due to changes in patterns of energy use at home, fuel poverty and people's reduced access to warm public places in the community.
But help is at hand. There are several ways that Mendip residents can reduce energy and save costs heating their homes this year.
Mendip District Council's housing team support the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) to help prevent cold related harm in the home.
The charity provides a single point of contact to help people, particularly those most vulnerable from the direct effects of a cold home.
They offer a free Home Energy Advice Line and will work with residents to create a plan that covers financial guidance on energy costs and help to apply for grants and loans. They also collaborate with other public sector partners to ensure people are warm and well.
Cllr Richard Pinnock, portfolio holder for housing services and governance, said: "Everyone has a right to a decent place to live which is warm and safe.
"Making sure our homes are energy efficient and warm is an essential step we should all take.
"Our advice during these extremely difficult times is to look out for friends and family who may be vulnerable to the cold, and ensure they have access to warm food and drinks and are managing to heat their homes adequately.
"Try to maintain indoor temperatures to at least 18C, particularly if you are not mobile, have a long-term illness or are 65 or over.
"Avoid exposing yourself to cold or icy outdoor conditions if you are at a higher risk of cold-related illness or falls, and stay up to date with the latest weather forecasts on the Met Office website."
Kate Thomas, project manager for CSE South West, said: "We are particularly asking for people who have been affected by the lockdown either through redundancy, being furloughed, or just worried about making ends meet with heating, to ring our helpline and talk to us.
"If you have a cold home or problems like damp or mould we are here and ready to help. We will listen to your situation and then refer you on to our advisers for free personal help and guidance.
"There are a wide range of grants and loans available that we can offer you to help make your home more energy efficient and hopefully we can save you some money."
Here are just some of the grants and loans available from Mendip District Council:
- Free Energy Performance Certificates (EPC): £100 available towards getting an EPC. This shows residents their current and potential energy rating as well as listing works to improve the property.
- EPC of D or lower: £500 available towards energy improvement works to improve the EPC rating. Up to £1,000 for landlords where the tenant is on qualifying benefits.
- Safer Homes Grant: homeowners can access grants of up to £10,000 towards essential works to their homes including energy efficiency improvements. Available to home owners on a means tested benefit or low income and considered vulnerable.
- Lendology Loans: up to £25,000 available towards works including renewable energy solutions.
- Green Homes Grant: a national scheme whereby any homeowner or landlord can apply for vouchers for green home improvements where the government will fund two-thirds of the cost of eligible works, up to £5,000. Low income households will be eligible for up to 100 per cent government funding up to £10,000. Residents must redeem the voucher and ensure improvements are completed by March 31 2022.
Residents can also sign up and register their interest in switching energy providers with the Big Community Switch by February 9 2021.
This year, for the first time, they have the option to switch easily to 100 per cent renewable energy tariffs from wind, biomass and solar for electricity at competitive market prices.
If you have been wanting to "go greener" with your energy supplier but haven't got round to it then this is a very easy way to register and make a change for the new year and potentially save some money.