charity energy grants

Energy confidence

 

Third Sector magazine has announced that £31 million in dormant assets will be released to charities to fund energy saving measures.

If you are a charity, I can help you decide where to start with making best use of this funding.

I give honest, practical, jargon-free advice to:

  • Charities
  • Social Enterprises
  • Cooperatives

In all building types including:

  • Offices
  • Theatres
  • Libraries
  • Swimming baths
  • Leisure Centres
  • Co-working spaces
  • Educational establishments
  • Churches, mosques, synagogues, mandirs, gurdwaras, Quaker meetings

and many more.

My recent clients include:

  • Jericho Foundation
  • Moseley Community Development Trust
  • Rep Theatre
  • Moseley Road Baths
  • Plus dozens of places of worship.

I can give you energy and environmental advice across all aspects of your operations including:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Renewable energy including solar, heat pumps
  • Water saving
  • Your “scope 3” emissions such as procurement, transport, waste
  • Monitoring your progress so you can prove your impact.

 

Working with me will give you:

  • Clarity on where to begin
  • Confidence that you are taking the right actions for your building
  • Cost-effective use of your money and resources
  • Carbon savings by implementing the right measures and monitoring their effectiveness.

 

Contact me now to discuss how I can help you show your community, your funders and donors that you are ethical and sustainable.

 

 

learn more

 

https://www.thirdsector.co.uk/charities-31m-release-dormant-assets/finance/article/1815422 

thermal image of heat loss from a church

 

Energy confidence

 

Many places of worship are difficult and expensive to keep warm, especially if they are used only intermittently.  Plus heating the worship space is often the biggest single source of greenhouse gas emissions from a church, mosque, mandir, synagogue or gurdwara.

Often I give advice to places of worship who have old heating systems that are based on wet radiators; they are suitable for a home but not for a place of worship with high ceilings, because they don’t get heat where it’s needed.  So the congregation complain of being cold during the winter.  

Sometimes it’s best to consider whether the congregation can move to another space that is easier to heat.  But this isn’t always possible or desirable.

One solution is to heat the person as well as the space.

Some efficient ways of heating the person are:

  • Under-pew heating – this is like a low-temperature electric blanket that goes under fixed pews, and heats the person from below
  • Rechargeable chair cushion heaters, that heat the person where there are individual chairs instead of fixed pews (if you have access to solar panels – either onsite, or offsite, or a solar charger, then you can potentially use solar energy to charge the heaters, as cushion heaters are low-temperature and don’t need much power).  
  • Infra-red heaters.

You should continue to heat the space as well as the person.  If you heat the person, then you need less heat for the space.  If you eliminate space heating altogether, then this can lead to problems with condensation and damp, and cause damage to the building fabric.  It can also cause circulation problems in a wet central heating system if you have short bursts of on/off.

The first video below is a case study from a church that uses rechargeable heaters.

 

 

The second video below is a case study from a church that uses under-pew heating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you need impartial expert energy saving advice for your place of worship, business or home, please contact me.

Learn more

 

Maggie and Dave are hosting our next Birmingham Green Doors event on 4 March 2023.

 

 

 

I have been there before to give them energy advice, but tonight was the first time I have been back since their green home makeover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are many features and benefits I could list but what struck me most was that it was evenly and consistently warm and comfortable throughout.

 

There are lots of measurements, thermal images, spreadsheets that could prove the carbon impact of what they’ve done. But you need to feel the comfort with your own five senses. This is an early 20th Century Edwardian terrace. They are notoriously leaky and draughty. If you move from one room to another you notice the difference. But not in Maggie and Dave’s house. On a cold January evening, the whole house is warm as toast.

At Maggie and Dave’s open house event on 4 March you will learn about:

  • How wall insulation has not only reduced heat loss, but improved airtightness, whose role in making a house warm or cold is often overlooked
  • The heat pump installer has done their job properly – they have designed flow rates, flow temperatures, and radiator sizing to ensure a steady background heat; with heating controls that are easy to use
  • How they have dealt with heat loss from the extremities of the house, such as the bay window
  • For those who like figures, you will be able to learn how much energy and carbon has been saved
  • Why you need to add ventilation when insulating a home – and how to do it
  • How Maggie and Dave chose and supervised the right contractors for the job

 

Who should attend?
  • People who are interested in making their home more energy efficient
  • Professionals working in housing and energy who are interested in warm, green homes
  • Community workers who want to help residents save energy
  • Students, teachers and academics interested in decarbonisation.

 

BOOK NOW!  Three time slots available.  Near Erdington train station, bus routes.

 

grandparent with grandchild in kitchen

 

Energy confidence

 

“LADS” = Local Authority Delivery Scheme – it’s a grant scheme aimed at installing energy saving measures in low-income households.

Sounds great!  But a number of local authorities have struggled to deliver it.  Including here in the West Midlands.

The biggest single reason is that central government gives local authorities an unrealistic timescale of 12 months to deliver it.

In 12 months, local authorities might have to:

  • set priorities for which homes should be targeted
  • go through a procurement exercise for retrofit assessors and installers
  • promote the availability of the scheme to eligible residents
  • sign up residents and deal with enquiries
  • carry out retrofit assessments
  • deal with drop-outs and objections
  • install the measures
  • complete the paperwork to show that the money has been spent properly.

An additional constraint is that it is high risk to install external wall insulation between October and March, because there is an increased risk of the render finish cracking.  This means you have seven months to deliver the scheme – from April to the end of October – if it involves external wall insulation on solid wall or system-built homes.

It’s no wonder the LADS scheme is so difficult to deliver.  The government should extend the delivery period to at least two years.

One other thing that does need to change is the way expectations of these scheme are managed.  We know from the experience of past schemes such as the Green Deal, that if scheme managers talk big numbers that they can’t deliver, or promise complex measures such as external wall insulation or heat pumps that they can’t realistically deliver, then people will feel let down and will lose trust in the scheme.  Community organisations and activists who want ensure that their neighbours take advantage of the scheme, can find that people’s trust in them is undermined.  The relationship between a community organisation and the people it serves becomes transactional and extractive.  We saw this on past schemes such as the Green Deal.

Sometimes it is better to stop promoting something and withdraw from it.  This is a difficult decision but it is in nobody’s interest to mislead vulnerable residents and to give them false hope.

We should also avoid using terms like “retrofit” in schemes aimed at the general public.  It’s jargon, and most people don’t understand what it means.  

 

confusion
Energy confidence
What are the most common types of objection to energy saving measures?

 

And how can we deal with them in a way that centres the needs of the householder?

 

  1. I need more information.

Some examples of this type of objection are:

  • I don’t know if a heat pump would work for me, and I need more information on how it would heat my home on a cold night, and still be affordable.  It’s not difficult to understand why.  Most people have not seen a heat pump working in a home.  They are more likely to have read an article in a hostile newspaper than to have seen a heat pump.  You need to listen to their objection and find out what their fears are.  Once you know their fears you can tackle them.   
  • I need more information on this ventilation system because I am concerned that it will be expensive to run.  Most homes in the UK have inadequate ventilation; you need to be able to show to the householder the benefits of proper ventilation and the role of ventilation in reducing moisture-related risks.  Most householders have limited understanding of this.  Once you have done this you need to be able to show them how improvements in the efficiency of ventilation system mean for their actual running costs – since there is an urban myth that they use a lot of electricity.
  • I don’t know where to start, or what to do first.  We need to invest time in showing householders what the energy saving hierarchy means in their home, and in what order we should do things.  Transactional or measures-based approaches fail to do this, and cause confusion and suspicion.  Householders often know more about their home than we do, and we should use this knowledge, and work with it not against it.
  • I need to know if the energy saving measure is guaranteed.   Big energy saving measures such as insulation and heating systems will have a guarantee but it’s not always obvious to householders how they activate the guarantee if anything goes wrong.  It is an essential, but often overlooked, part of the handover of energy saving measures to ensure they are given adequate information about guarantees.
  • What aftercare do I get?  Many energy saving measures are handed over without any aftercare.  Examples of aftercare that should be given or shown include: how to fix things to walls that have been insulated; how to use heating controls; what is the expected impact of solar panels that have been installed.  Yet this aftercare is often neglected.  I get many enquiries from householders about this, where they are in the dark about how things work.  This includes people who have moved into a house with energy saving measures, where the landlord/letting agent/estate agent has no idea how they work.  There needs to be proper aftercare, including to people who lack fluency in written or spoken English, and retrofit passports for houses that are resold or relet.  

2. Will this work in my home?

People won’t buy what they haven’t seen. Most people have now seen solar panels. Very few people have seen a heat pump in a home in the UK.  We need to be able to exemplify homes that have them – schemes like Birmingham Green Doors and Superhomes do this.

3. I need to speak to my partner first

Within a household, there is often the perception of conflicting views. It is commonly assumed that goals such as saving the planet, saving money, and keeping warm are in conflict with each other. This often takes the form of “my spouse is an environmentalist who is motivated by saving the planet, whereas I am mainly concerned with saving money and keeping warm”. In reality these goals are not mutually exclusive and it is possible to persuade people that you can save the planet, save money, make the home more comfortable, and improve the value of a home. Key to this is a whole-house energy strategy. Starting with a shopping list of energy saving measures makes it harder to synchronise goals that are seem to be in opposition to each other.

4. It’s too expensive

Some energy saving measures are expensive.  Some installers of measures such as solar have given these measures a bad reputation by mis-selling systems that are over-priced because most people don’t have a benchmark against which they can compare prices.  A good energy saving strategy for a home will include a mixture of measures, including low-cost and no-cost measures.  A good advisor will highlight no-cost and low-cost measures such as heating control improvements, to win the confidence of the householder so they have a better understanding of a whole-house approach and don’t feel under pressure to spend money on things they don’t need.

Some householders believe that they need to fit every single energy saving technology available to make a difference.  This is not always the case.  A long-term energy saving plan will include measures that can be implemented now; measures that can be implemented in the next five years, and measures that can be implemented in the longer term.  This means that the householder doesn’t necessarily need to spend all of their money all at once.  Some householders (and businesses and public bodies) have a perception that they need to reach “net zero” by a certain date (e.g. 2030).  I do not wish to discourage people from aiming for net zero.  But there is always a pathway that a home needs to follow to get close to net zero in the future.  An abstract target at a date in the future can be paralysing.  Energy saving is all about goal setting, with interim milestones as well as long-term goals.  It’s the interim milestones that are empowering because they give people something achievable to aim for.  A good energy saving strategy for a house will identify the key measures that will make the biggest progress in approaching net zero.  It will also tell the householder what they shouldn’t do.  For example, “you need a PV system of 4 kW, not 8 kW”.  “You don’t have enough land for a ground source heat pump, but a properly designed heat pump will reduce your carbon emissions from heating by 80% (typically).”

5. I am going to do something else instead

Sometimes you will advise a householder to implement energy saving measures, and highlight the priority measures that will make the most difference; but instead they implement something that was much lower down your list of recommendations, and which will make less difference.  There are valid reasons why they might feel comfortable doing this.  This can be frustrating but use it as an opportunity to remind them of the long-term energy saving plan, and plant the seed in their mind that they might implement some of the other measures in future.  Energy saving schemes often have a short-term transactional approach, based on meeting a target (e.g. install 10,000 heat pumps in Anytown by 2025) that is meaningless to most people.  Householders don’t think that way.  There will be other opportunities for deeper energy saving interventions in that person’s life at some point in the future.  Make sure that they know that they can come back to you when that happens.  Let them know that you are interested in their future.

6. I have not heard of the installer

This is understandable.  There is a boom-bust cycle in energy saving due to the short-term initiatives of successive governments.  This leads to churn in the energy efficiency industry and makes it difficult for installers to establish a reputation.  I advise householders what to look out for in terms of accreditations, trading history, customer reviews; but this isn’t always enough.  What helps a householder to have confidence in an installer is when I advise the householder what to expect.  Some energy saving measures  (glazing, loft insulation, kitchen appliances, lighting) are relatively easy for regular householders to understand.  Some of the measures we need to achieve deep cuts in emissions (external wall insulation; heat pumps) are more complicated than householders are prepared for, and involve unfamiliar concepts and language.  It’s important to prepare householders for what will happen when someone comes to survey for these measures.  That gives the householder a benchmark against which to decide whether this installer is right for them or not.

7. I don’t have time for this; it’s disruptive

Undertaking significant energy saving improvements to a home can be time-consuming.  The time spent in gathering information and making decisions can be stressful.  A good advisor will provide a hand-holding service to householders.  This helps to create a psychologically safe space in which people can make major decisions about their home.  This means that they will feel that the time they spend is time well spent, rather than time wasted.

 

8. So what does “retrofit” actually mean?

I have seen energy saving schemes that  are good at the initial engagement of householders, and then at the end of what seems like a successful conversation, the householder says, “so what does retrofit actually mean?”  The word retrofit is of course jargon, it’s an unfamiliar term, that isn’t salient to most people’s experience.  I have tried to avoid it in this article.  We should think very carefully about the language we use.  

Do you really need to use the word “retrofit”?  Is there another word you can use instead?

 

It’s important to note that many of these objections apply whether the household is paying for the measures or not.  With the exception of the cost-based objections, all of them can and do appear whether the energy saving measures are self-funded or grant-funded.  That’s because they are rooted in genuine fear of what might go wrong; these objections should not be poo-pooed, but welcomed.  Those involved in advising householders on energy saving measures need to acquire sales skills that will help them deal with genuine objections in a way that centres the householder’s needs, rather than centring the scheme manager’s needs.

 

thermal imaging

 

Thermal imaging is a great way to understand how heat is being lost from a building. In this webinar I show you what to look out for when doing thermal imaging, and how to use a camera and software. Plus general hints and tips on energy saving and also ventilation. This webinar was held as part of Community Energy Fortnight 2022. I am grateful to Civic Square and Dark Matter Labs for their support in putting on this webinar.

Click on the video link below to watch the recording.  

I offer thermal imaging services as part of a whole-building approach to saving energy in your home or business.  Householders please click here for more information, businesses please click here.  

 

fuel bill concern

Energy confidence

Are you a landlord who is looking to help their tenants to keep their fuel bills affordable?  Are you concerned that rising fuel costs will make it more difficult for your tenants to afford their rent?   Do you want to avoid the expense of having to deal with condensation related damp?  Read my top tips for rented properties.

 

  •  Boiler temperature.  If your tenant has a combination boiler then the radiator temperature on the boiler should be set no higher than 55 degrees.  Click here to find out why.  
  • Storage heater controls.  In homes with night storage heaters, it’s important to make sure that the controls are set to charge during the night and discharge during the day.  The video at the bottom of this page shows how to set the controls on a night storage heater.
  • Insulating the home is the most effective way to help your tenants keep their homes warm affordably.  In most homes, the greatest heat loss is through the walls, followed by the roof and the floor.  Properly designed insulation, with adequate ventilation, reduces the risk of condensation.
  • LED lighting is a very cost-effective way of keeping running costs down.  Don’t forget fixed lighting in kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, stairs, corridors and external lighting.
  • Tariff and payment method.  Tenants often move into a home with no idea of whether they are on the best tariff or payment method.  Especially younger tenants who have no experience of running a household.  Encourage them to ask the energy supplier if they are on the best possible tariff.  If they are able to pay by direct debit then this is always a cheaper payment method than pay-as-you-go.  Modern smart meters can be easily switched from prepayment to credit mode and back again.  Homes with storage heaters should be on Economy 7 tariffs.  Homes without storage heaters should never be on an Economy 7 tariff.
  • Get impartial advice on how to improve the energy efficiency of your homes.  I have a range of home energy advice packages.  If you have more than one home then please contact me for a bespoke quote.  

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On Air

 

Unity FM radio were kind enough to invite me on to their Connecting Communities broadcast with Mehmooda Qureshi and Dr Peter Rooke.

This broadcast will be of interest to people who are looking for expert help with energy saving in their home or business, for two reasons:

  1. In this broadcast, I talk about how I go about an energy saving plan for a building – in this case it was a faith building, but I have a similarly strategic approach to any home, business, or community building
  2. A recent client of mine, Hitesh Kukadia, the President of Shree Ram Mandir, is also on the broadcast, in which he talks about his experience of working with me.

Please click on the widget below to listen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(In case you’re interested, the title of this blog is a tribute to The Selecter, who were part of the soundtrack to my youth)

 

cottage

 

The Green Homes Grant (Local Area Delivery Scheme) – also known as LADS – is here.  It provides grant funding for some measures, but how much you get and what for, varies from one local authority to another. In some local authorities it is means tested, in others it isn’t.  Also because of supply chain issues, in some areas it is behind schedule.  If you have energy saving measures through this scheme, then the scheme manager chooses the installer for you.  Unlike the previous Green Homes Grant scheme, it is operated by the local authority and the charity Act On Energy, which I think is a good move.

Act On Energy are managing the customer journey in most of the West Midlands, and you can see what is on offer in each local authority on their website – https://actonenergy.org.uk/local-authority-delivery-scheme-lads/

If you’re not in the West Midlands, then Google “Local authority delivery scheme [your local authority name]

As part of the quality assurance scheme that includes LADS, you should receive independent advice from a Retrofit Coordinator, free of charge, if you qualify for LADS.  Which means you don’t have to pay me for advice!  If however, you would still like to pay me for independent and impartial advice on saving energy in your home –  or even your business –  then I would be happy to help.  I help you to understand where to start, and how to plan for making your home or business environmentally friendly in the short, medium and long term.  

 

learn more

 

Energy confidence

 

washing machine

Are you looking for a kitchen appliance?  My post-Brexit advice is now to compare the amount of kiloWatt hours (kWh) of electricity the appliance is predicted to use in a year.  Not the energy rating (A-G), as you might have done previously.

Why is this?

It’s to do with Brexit and the UK’s antiquated electricity distribution system.

The electricity that comes into your house is 240 volts.  But none of the appliances in a modern house need 240 volts.  They typically run at 220 volts.

So that is quite a bit of electricity going to waste.

Since we left the European Union, that waste is now reflected on the energy label of appliances.  So something that used to be A-rated, might now only be E-rated, as I found recently when shopping for a new washing machine.  

So it’s best to compare appliances by predicted kWh use in an average year.  So fridge-freezer A might use 60 kWh, whereas fridge-freezer B might use 70 kWh.  You can compare water use on washing machines and dishwashers too.

If you’re a householder then there’s not much you can do about the fact that your electricity supply is 240 volts.  But there are still a myriad of ways you can save energy in the home.

Whereas if you’re a business, it might be worthwhile fitting a voltage optimiser.  This is a transformer that reduces the voltage from 240 volts to 220.

If you’re a householder, business or public body than needs advice on reducing your greenhouse gas emissions, then check out my expert advice packages.

Energy confidence