Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Helping residents bring their energy costs down

Energy bills account for a large chunk of most household budgets, during the summer they may be a little lighter, but when it comes to winter the costs go up, particularly if it is a cold one. Interestingly though only a few of us ever sit down and think about how we could bring the cost down although the savings made can often be considerable and it only takes a little time to do.

That is why I was delighted to drop in at the local energy café in Parklands, Chichester, last month where energy experts from Your Energy Sussex provided free, independent energy advice for residents.

The team ran a series of community events and energy cafés in Parklands, Tangmere and Sompting offering advice on anything from draught proofing and insulation to replacement boilers and solar panels. Their energy bill checking and switching service was particular popular, providing an average £200 saving on residents’ energy bills. One resident saved £780 by simply taking the time to dig out their energy bills and pop along for a chat.

Offering such a service which could help residents, particularly those on limited budgets, is really important so I am particularly pleased that West Sussex County Council is the driving force behind Your Energy Sussex, which is a partnership between local councils.

I have to admit to having high hopes that the partnership will help to change the face of energy in the county. Over the coming year you will be hearing a lot more about their work to improve the energy efficiency of our homes and businesses and increase the amount of renewable energy we generate in Sussex.

Through the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), they have the funding in place to succeed and the fact that much of their work is delivered through local companies is also good news for the Sussex economy. This will build confidence and nurture growth over time and help to provide employment, training and apprenticeship opportunities for the local workforce.

By the end of this year, the first solar farm on council-owned land at Tangmere will be generating clean, low-carbon electricity for the National Grid. Developments such as these will generate an income and pay for energy efficiency work for low income households, such as the existing Your Energy Sussex boiler replacement and insulation scheme. A programme to make WSCC-owned buildings, including offices, Children and Family Centres and libraries, is also about to get underway alongside a project to fit solar panels to social housing. This will provide cheaper, low-carbon electricity for tenants.

With more local councils looking to sign up to the partnership and deliver projects of their own using the available funding, there is a real opportunity for the whole of Sussex to reap positive environmental and economic benefits and help our residents from this work. You can find out more about the partnership on the Your Energy Sussex website.

Best wishes,

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