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.  


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.  

learn more


house losing heat

A new evaluation report shows that a small Birmingham charity has helped more than 500 vulnerable households to improve their household finances through energy saving advice and practical measures, and income maximisation activities.  

Saltley Community Association has also achieved a return on investment of more than £8 for each £1 donated to the project by its funder, Energy Redress (administered by the Energy Saving Trust).  

Special thanks to the two main project workers, Shahid Mir and Safdar Mir, who worked tirelessly throughout Covid-19 to support vulnerable households.

Please click here to read the report, written by me, edited by Louise Heaps and illustrated by Amy Purdie.

fuel bill concern





Ofgem’s decision to relax the fuel price cap is disastrous for the fuel poor.

The competitive energy market in this country is fundamentally broken.  It does not work for consumers or adequately address the climate emergency.   This market failure is felt most acutely by the fuel poor.  

Energy saving solutions

Ofgem says that relaxing the price cap is necessary to address bad consumer debt.  The increase in bad debt as more people are thrown into fuel poverty is itself an indicator of the inadequacy of policy and regulation to address the growing fuel poverty crisis.

But the worst news is that the price cap relaxation will particularly impact two groups of consumers – those on standard tariffs, and those on pre-payment meters – i.e. the fuel poor.  It’s insulting of Ofgem to say that consumers can “shop around”.  We need massive investment in energy saving measures in all homes in this country, as the most sustainable way to tackle fuel poverty and climate change.  The fuel poor must not be left behind, as usually happens.

It’s a double whammy for the fuel poor.  They are the most likely to be impacted by rising fuel prices, and the least likely to get the energy saving measures that they need.