20-26 January 2020 is Big Energy Saving Week, a national campaign run by Citizens Advice, Citizens Advice Scotland, Energy Saving Trust and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to raise awareness around our energy usage and habits.
To mark the occasion, CREW would like to invite you to attend one of our free energy advice events in Morden and Islington.
You can get information and support from our trained advisors on:
We're proud to be taking part in the Big Energy Saving Week as it's a cause have been championing through our Winter 2019/20 energy cafe programme and Warm and Well events in partnership with Wimbledon Guild and Age UK Merton. National fuel poverty levels sit around 10% and are at their highest in London. Single-parent families, the elderly, and people on the lowest incomes are the most affected. We are working to bring this figure down by showing these people - and anyone else who wants to reduce their carbon footprint - how to make small changes that add up to big savings!
If you can't make the events next week, we encourage you to come along to our upcoming events, or to see how much you could save using the Citizens Advice energy comparison tool: https://energycompare.citizensadvice.org.uk/
Make 2020 a Big Energy Saving Year! #BESW20
For further information on our energy cafe programme, head to our website where you'll also find plenty of behind-the-scenes blog posts: http://www.crewenergy.london/energy-cafes.html
You can find out more about the Warm and Well scheme here: https://www.wimbledonguild.co.uk/community-services/warm-and-well and our New Unity transformation project here: http://www.crewenergy.london/new-unity.html
Have you seen information about our energy cafés but aren't sure they’re for you? We get it. Offering free advice could seem suspicious to some, let alone free cake. But, firstly, you should know that our energy advice sessions are entirely volunteer-led and grant-funded; our lovely trained energy advisors are just people helping people and being kind to the planet along the way.
We also know talk of fuel poverty can throw some people. And while this affects 11% of the UK population, it’s important to know that our energy cafés are suitable for everyone and anyone. More specifically, anyone who pays energy bills, and/or who would like to reduce their carbon footprint. Fuel poverty is just one (albeit important) aspect of the scheme.
How does it work?
Come along to one of our drop-in sessions at your local library or community centre. No appointment necessary – all you need is your latest energy bill. Our trained energy advisors can then sit down with you to provide personalised, impartial advice and support on switching energy tariffs, energy-saving measures and small behaviour changes – all over tea and cake. The service is free and could save you hundreds of pounds.
Depending on circumstances, we can also arrange in-home visits or grant application support through our partners Thinking Works, a not-for-profit company that can assess your needs and fit water- and energy-saving devices in your home free of charge. So far, so good?
When and where?
The cafés take place in ‘blocks’ of up to six weeks in the same location – typically libraries or community centres. This gives you the chance to return the following week with additional information and bills, or after discussing your options with a family member. See our upcoming energy café locations and dates here.
We tailor our advice to all kinds of situations, from inquisitive eco-warrior to households struggling to make ends meet. Pop in and see us!
December 2019 dates: Raynes Park Library, Saturday 14th and 21st December, 12pm-5pm.
We about sustainable and renewable technology a lot, so we thought it was high-time we showed you that we know our stuff, while also giving you the insider knowledge to decipher the jargon. This month, in our ‘tech spot’, we’re breaking down heat pumps.
As more and more councils declare climate emergencies, we need to think about what measures we can take to help hit zero carbon. If you heat your home using a gas boiler you will emit, on average, 3.5 tonnes of carbon per annum. You will also send particulate matter and carbon monoxide into your local atmosphere. Even if your home is electrically heated, you will have similar carbon emissions, as 1 kWh of heat needs 1kWh of electricity.
So, what is the alternative?
Heat pumps are the environmental solution to this issue. They use electricity to heat your home but in a much more efficient manner than traditional storage heaters. Heat pumps are 325-400% efficient. This means that they emit up to 4 times fewer emissions than gas or storage heaters and they are cheaper to run. Switch to a green tariff and you can heat your home carbon neutrally.
Savings and subsidies
Until April 2021, there are large Government subsidies available to encourage the uptake of heat pumps - the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Householders, communities and businesses can earn up to £12,500 in subsidies over seven years to finance their heat pump install. Heat pumps cost between £11-16k to install, depending on the complexity, product and size of the home. Energy savings will depend on your current heating type and energy tariff. Heat pumps should be around a third of the cost to run of storage heaters and will save up to 20% compared to gas.
If you would like to find out more about heat pumps and other energy-saving technologies, just email email@example.com!
Last month we announced our UKPN Power Partners funding for 22 energy cafes across Lambeth, Merton and Wandsworth throughout winter 2019/2020. This funding covers training of our new energy advisors, followed by two successful energy cafes held at Morden Library throughout November.
The training session was run by our very own Alex Hartley, SELCE/CREW crossover member and all-round community energy guru. Over this extensive training weekend, she trained 8 energy advisors - including some students from Bristol and Queen Mary universities and UCL - in how to provide energy advice.
One of our new volunteers, Peter, gives us a run-down of the weekend.
Alex delivered the course in a fun and engaging way meaning that all the volunteers came away armed with information and tools to really make a difference in the community.
It was particularly interesting learning some key facts about energy usage in the UK, areas where savings can be made and the importance of making a property energy efficient. This really opened our minds to what is possible!
We covered the core areas of advice we will offer to people which are categorised as:
There is obviously a lot we can offer people but one of the keys areas which we also focussed on was personal interaction with people, most of whom will be sceptical to begin with. We covered off our introductions, active listening, questioning skills and general rapport building. This was all reinforced and practised through role play which was really valuable. With Alex’s experience she really has a lot of knowledge and insight to share with us in this area.
Knowing that CREW has so much to offer people and, after the weekend, I think all volunteers came away with a sense of keenness to get involved and start to help others in the community. We now also know there is a great support and infrastructure provided by CREW to support this initiative.
For more info on our upcoming energy cafes, head to our energy cafes page.
Responding to the climate emergency and reducing fuel poverty will only be solved through communities coming together to share time, experience, knowledge and enthusiasm. CREW Energy is excited to partner with Sustainable Merton on projects within the borough. Below we feature the work of Sustainable Merton and details of how you can get involved.
-Founded by a local resident, Sustainable Merton has been making a difference to sustainable living in Merton since 2007. They continue to inspire, engage and influence local people and partner organisations to be the solution to the issues affecting our environment locally and globally.
Be part of the solution to protect our planet
At a time when concern about the climate crisis continues to escalate, Sustainable Merton's Community Champions are inspiring residents, businesses and key decision-makers across the borough to 'think global, act local' so that we can all be part of the solution to urgent environmental issues.
From reducing our consumption of energy and resources, to valuing fresh, local food and taking action to breathe cleaner air, we aim to influence the changes that will make our borough a healthier, happier and more sustainable community now and for future generations to come. By working together we can make this happen.
Sustainable Merton have a range of fantastic campaigns and regular activities tackling their four member-driven priorities including a plastic free campaign, a clean air campaign with schools in the borough and community gardening days.
Find out more about Sustainable Merton and how you can get involved at sustainablemerton.org.
Last month, we gave a behind-the-scenes intro to our energy cafes. But what does it mean to our volunteers? Here’s a first-hand account from CREW Energy Adviser, Maureen.
Sometimes I am truly humbled by the financial resilience I meet during energy cafe exchanges.
When one is unemployed for a period and managing on Universal Credit before recovering from injury and returning to work, one needs the most amazing skills to prioritise which bill to pay, which friend to tap for a loan, which life-enhancing activity to forego in order to survive, just about.
When in work, it is possible to pay the rent and council tax (a most regressive tax for tenants) with a minimum of juggling and a bit of being behind. Enter a period of unemployment and the debt mounts; paying back even £23 a week(!) of the arrears leaves so little money for the other necessities.
The most efficient and cheapest options are not available to people on very low income. Our energy cafes are a sign of solidarity with our fellows who are not as lucky and a reminder that a run of bad luck, unemployment, injury or illness can easily tip one into financial stress.
Our energy cafes offer advice on energy efficiency in the home, as well as the benefits and discounts available to more vulnerable households.
Electric vehicles have become an important part of both the fight against air pollution and the move to a low-carbon economy, which is essential for reducing the effects of climate change. EVs aim to replace road vehicles, which use internal combustion engines (ICEs), by instead charging a battery which then delivers power to the motor.
The current state of EVs
Currently, the number of EVs (including PHEVs) is 2.7% of the UK’s total market. The UK government’s current plan is to stop selling internal combustion engines by 2040, although recent reports, such as by the Committee on Climate Change, have said this is too late and should be moved forward to 2035 or 2030 to meet 2050 climate change targets.
How do we boost EV numbers?
EV charging is an important part of electric vehicle deployment. Although large amounts of charging will occur at home, there will also need to be EV charging at locations such as offices, and retail and leisure facilities. In cities, a lot of people do not have off-street parking, meaning innovation in on-street charging is also required. One strategy which is often mooted to quicken the adoption of EVs is to try to make EV charging as convenient and quick as possible, aligning with the public’s current experience of refuelling an ICE.
There are three main types of EV:
For further information on EVs, 'range anxiety' and common misconceptions, check out this article.
Do you have an EV? Tell us about your charging experience!
Our energy cafes aim to help people get more value for their energy spend. They are run by volunteers trained in giving energy advice and the concept was part of CREW’s very raison d’être.
We meet at venues where there is a significant footfall and talk people through the process of choosing the best-value supplier for their circumstances. We use the Citizens Advice site to do so. This is seldom a simple process because everyone’s situation is different. The poorer you are the trickier it is to get the best deal.
Why do we offer this service?
It is helpful for people who are anxious about using computer searches to have a friendly companion when attempting to do this. Often complex telephone calls are involved too, so some support is always welcome.
If someone brings their energy bill, we can follow the online system and find a range of options. We are also alert to issues such as calculating length of contract and costs of changing suppliers. This is different from the help people get at the supermarket or on the street, where suppliers are touting for business and the necessary questions don’t always come to mind.
For those with debt problems, we can point them to helpful agencies. We are also aware of the various discounts available and can advise on simple energy-reducing actions to ensure people get the best value out of their electricity, gas and water charges.
All done over a coffee and sometimes even a piece of cake!
Find out more about our Energy Cafés here.
July was a big month for the community energy sphere, with Community Energy Fortnight (22 June - 7 July) and London’s very first Climate Action Week (1-7 July).
Throughout the two-week period, CREW members darted from event to event telling Londoners about our ongoing projects and hearing updates from our fellow community energy groups. In particular, we spoke about our LED lighting project at the Community Energy Annual Conference and attended the London Climate Action Week launch.
We took the opportunity to spread the word on social media but, in case you missed it, below are our reflections on London’s first celebration of climate action.
Sadiq Khan invited a range of organisations working hard to make London a greener, more sustainable city to the launch event of London’s first ever Climate Action Week. Following the Mayor’s declaration of a climate emergency earlier this year, Londoners have been encouraged to attend one of the hundreds of events around the capital to learn more and take action at a community level to tackle climate change.
CREW Energy attended the reception at the London Living Room in City Hall to hear both HRH Prince Charles and Sadiq Khan make impassioned speeches to move beyond the rhetoric and start taking meaningful action on climate. This was followed by interesting panel discussions from a range of climate activities and sustainability champions on how to lead change at a community, city and national level. We left feeling both inspired and informed, with greater conviction that CREW Energy can play a meaningful role in helping London become the world’s greenest, cleanest, low carbon city.