This week, we had the pleasure of being interviewed by BBC Morning Live!
Energy champion Armelle talked grants and the rising cost of living with 83 year old Mary, while our Director Toby walked reporter James Stewart through some easy energy saving tips.
You can watch the full clip on BBC iPlayer (from 10 mins onwards):
Back in 2020, we received funding from the Wandsworth Local Fund for our Green Walls project. Wandsworth Council kindly featured a piece on the installation at Smallwood and Hillbrook Schools in Tooting, photographed here.
The aim of the Green Walls project is to help schools mitigate the effects the effects of air pollution in playgrounds close to surrounding streets and to provide the pupils with more access to nature and greenery. Over the next year or two, the green walls will develop to provide an uninterrupted covering of green, attracting bees, butterflies and insects.
Hi, I am Toby, one of the directors at CREW Energy. CREW is a not-for-profit community benefit society (Coop) that is supporting SW London’s transition to a low carbon economy. We work with schools, civic buildings, local residents and businesses to help them cut carbon, improve air quality and reduce bills.
CREW also has an active community outreach programme, helping those struggling to pay bills, with face to face consultations, phone advice and home visits. You can find out more about our current project at: https://swleap.org.uk/.
The gas crisis
I wanted to spend some time in this article talking about energy prices. As you will know by now, prices are set to rise by 54% in April and are likely to rise further in October due to the Ukraine war and its impact on the gas market (see chart). Current estimates are that the next price cap, in October, will see a further 24% rise and this could increase further as the war drags on.
So what can you do?
Firstly, make behavioural changes. Turn down your thermostat 1 degree, and reach for a jumper to keep warm. Put a snake at your front door to reduce drafts. Close doors so you keep warmth in the room. Make sure your dishwasher and washing machines are full before running them. Reduce the time you spend in the shower or even adopt my latest fad, cold showers. These improve circulation, reduce inflammation and increase endorphins. What's not to like? For more tips click here.
Secondly, send your supplier an updated reading before March 31st so you are not charged at the higher rate for energy already used. If you are on a non-smart prepayment meter, top up for as much as you can before April 1st to avoid the cap increase.
Then consider adopting energy saving technologies like LED lights (they will save 50-90% depending on fitting type) and smart thermostats which will learn how long it takes to warm your home and adjust that time depending on outside temperatures, something us geeks call weather compensation. Smart radiator valves will allow you to zone your home and only heat rooms when you need to. Why heat a bedroom from 5 pm or even at lunch time? Loft insulation is relatively inexpensive and can save up to 20% on heating bills.
Commercial and domestic gas boilers are responsible for around 16% of London's NOx emissions (data from 2016). Energy efficiency measures can improve air quality and reduce your energy bills. Read about the things that you can change at home.
1. Make some behavioural changes:
Just how bad is it?
In historic terms, UK air quality is much better than it was back in the days when everyone had a coal fire leading to terrible smogs. In 1952, The Great Smog of London led to an estimated 12,000 people dying. Ultimately, the event led to the Clean Air Act of 1956. Even so, there was another smog reaching across much of the country during the big freeze winter of 1962. Looking at the graph we can see how pollution has declined.
Air quality is better, so what’s the problem?
Even as air pollution has decreased, our knowledge of the harm air quality plays in our lives has increased. Fossil fuel pollution is now responsible for an astonishing 1 in 5 of all deaths worldwide. 9,400 deaths in London are attributable to air pollution. The role that Particulate Matter (PM) plays has become starkly clearer. The tragic death of Ella Kissi Debrah was the first to be directly attributed to air quality. As the science has become better, our knowledge of what the effects has increased: Children are highly affected by air pollution.
Hi everyone, following on from Morgan, my name is Armelle and I am another member of CREW! I have just finished my studies in Geography with Economics and, outside of CREW, my interests lie in green finance, ESG investing and the global energy transition. I started with CREW at the end of 2019 and initially joined as an Energy Advisor, to be a part of the work CREW does to alleviate fuel poverty within our local community. Over the past couple of years, I have worked on distributing emergency fuel vouchers, helping clients access white goods and deal with arrears on their energy bills. I have also enjoyed helping clients access grants (which they are rarely aware of!) and generally spreading awareness of those small energy efficiency measures which can end up saving clients (and you!) a lot more money (and help the environment), than one would expect. However, not long after joining CREW, I began to learn more and became involved in the many ways in CREW's work to decarbonise our local community... Have a look at the Home Carbon Audit and the Our Projects section on our website and social media to see us in action!
P.S. more in progress, and more to come soon!
The community share offer at the DEVAS Club was the first big project I was introduced to, and I am still inspired by seeing the team work so hard towards raising the £50,000 (where four heat pumps were installed at the youth club in Battersea in March this year). From the fuel poverty side to all the renewable energy projects, CREW has extensive networks and expertise to call upon. This is definitely what makes CREW unique, and I have learned SO much already. I will also add that CREW is extremely adaptable and, for example, advice given at our Energy Cafés has already been altered to incorporate the impacts of the price cap and the recent energy supplier crisis. Overall, through working with CREW, I am convinced of the need for a community energy group within every local community, a sector which clearly has a lot of social value to add towards the pre-existing benefits of renewable energy.
Nine energy suppliers have gone to the wall and more are likely to follow in the coming weeks and months, under pressure from spiralling gas prices. We have heard the reasons for these price rises: last year's cold winter, a lack of storage (especially in the UK), interconnector issues and the global recovery post pandemic.
Perhaps the most concerning issue is the global demand for liquid natural gas (LNG) which is an international commodity that goes to the highest bidder. Britain needs LNG cargoes to balance our system particularly in cold winters. In 2019, 20% of our supply came from LNG imports.
Factors likely to keep LNG volatile and tight in supply:
Introduction to Morgan da Silva
Hi, my name is Morgan da Silva and I am a member of CREW. My background stems from the desire to see everyone have access to electricity around the world. In some places, renewable energy can provide clean and accessible electricity where governments cannot afford to extend the grid. I began with a development project in Nicaragua that operated on this principle and installed pico solar systems in rural areas. I then went to California, USA where I worked with Tesla on their residential solar market for two years. On return to the UK, I did a masters focused on the social aspect of the energy transition, leading directly into what CREW does to alleviate energy poverty. I started as an energy advisor with CREW in my spare time and now run my own business, Yes Make London, building green spaces in public places and contributing to CREW where I can.
What is the most understandable, easy-to-see and interactive way of communicating the Climate Emergency?
I have asked myself this question for a long time now, and I have finally found an answer I am comfortable enough with. So much so that I started a company to do it! Our company is called Yes Make London and we make green spaces in public places so that everyone can enjoy them.
If you've never switched energy company before and are on a standard tariff, did you know you could make an average saving of around £300 per year on your bills by switching?
Tips like this are exactly why CREW’s free energy advice helpline is proving useful for the residents of Tooting!
We are piloting a hyper-local, multilingual approach focusing on the Tooting Ward. The team are creating links with local organisations to generate referrals, such as Wandle Housing Association, DONS Local Action Group (a network of Covid-19 volunteers) and Mushkil Aasaan. Project flyers are available in Hindi, Spanish, Tamil and Urdu and CREW can offer advice in these languages as well as French, Polish and Portuguese.
Our energy advice is aimed at people on low incomes, older people, families with young children, people with long-term health conditions or anyone else who is vulnerable in some way. We aim to save people money, assist them in navigating the often-confusing world of energy companies and tariffs, and make sure people are getting all the discounts, funding, freebies and support they are eligible for.
One of our clients saved £440! Read on to hear just some of our success stories.
Usually the one place in your house that you won’t find a (traditional) plug socket, you might not think of the bathroom when it comes to energy saving. But, aside from the obvious water savings (which can still save you money if your water is metered!), there are plenty of ways to cut your carbon footprint by heating less water, switching to LED light bulbs and making plastic-free swaps.
So, water you waiting for? Time to make some savings.
This month's guest blog post comes from our local partner, Sustainable Merton! Read more as they tackle five tricky-to-recycle items and some creative ways of reusing and upcycling them, including:
We are pleased to announce that with over £30,000 of investment and additional booster funding from the Community Shares Booster Programme, we have successfully raised £50,000 to install four air source heat pumps at Devas Club in Battersea!
We'd like to firstly sincerely thank everyone who invested in our share offer and welcome them into our CREW. This was our very first share offer, launched mid-pandemic, mid-Brexit deadline, with Christmas and lockdown to contend with. With a lot of hard work and community support, we made it happen and we could not be happier.
A special shoutout goes to all our members and Directors, Andre Pinho who assessed our documentation for the Standard Mark certification, the team at the Community Shares Unit for supporting our booster funding application, Simmons & Simmons for their pro bono legal support, and countless other community groups who helped us spread the word.
But don't worry if you missed this round, we'll be back with more exciting funding opportunities very soon - watch this space and register your interest here!
This month, we co-hosted our first monthly Web Chat with Merton-based charity Sustainable Merton
Over 20 people attended the short 45-minute discussion on 'Greening your home for less' where we tested their energy knowledge and discussed ways to reduce our energy bills and carbon footprint. The best place to start is by testing how well you know your home's energy performance so you can start improving it! Here are a few tips that might surprise you...
Did you know...?
Watch the recording to find out more and test your own knowledge!
A couple of weeks ago, we hosted a fireside Q&A with CREW members, friends and family to discuss their burning questions about our current community share offer with Devas Club in Battersea. We had great feedback on the answers we gave to our questions and, since hosting the Q&A we have received an additional £15,000 of investments!
In case you missed it, we have made the presentation slides and the Zoom recording available for you to watch here. If you have any more questions, please do send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'd be happy to help.
We’re pleased to announce that CREW Energy’s community share offer has been awarded the official Community Shares Standard Mark!
Both our share offer document and our business plan have been under assessment by an independent licensed assessor since late 2020 to ensure that:
CREW is aiming to raise £50,000 throughout January 2021 to fund a renewable heat project in south-west London with our longstanding partners, Devas Club. The share offer launched on 14 December 2020 and will be running throughout January 2021. On 8 January 2021, we reached £10,000 of our investment target!
Shareholders will entirely fund the cost of 4 community-owned heat pumps to be installed at the youth club and, in return, will get a targeted 3% return on their investment.
Not only will these heat pumps generate huge energy savings in the Devas building – £962 per year in fact – they will reduce carbon emissions in the area by 17 tonnes CO2e annually and provide CREW with a means of hosting yet more climate outreach and education across Wandsworth, Merton and Lambeth.
A challenging but pivotal year for a share offer
While community share offers are an established means of funding community energy, ours is the first of its kind in London to focus on renewable heat! Luckily for us, heat pumps have been a hot topic in 2020 through the Government’s Green Homes Grant and the so-called Green Plan, where they were cited as a key element in the UK’s race to net zero by 2050. This certainly made it easier to shout about the green power of the mighty heat pump.
However, in the midst of a pandemic, it sometimes feels like there is, understandably, little room in people’s newsfeeds for a community project. This means we’ve had to work extremely hard all through 2020 to not only combat lockdown delays in surveying the building and quoting for the heat pumps, but also to navigate the fast-paced news sphere (not to mention launching at Christmas time and the Brexit deadline) in an entirely digital campaign!
Find out more about investing in CREW Energy’s community share offer here. Or follow our journey on social media and through our newsletter.
We're working in partnership with Sustainable Merton to combine our climate and sustainability efforts. We will be sharing regular blog posts from them on themes that fall under the sustainability umbrella, but perhaps outside CREW's core area of energy efficiency.
This month's post is on the theme of food and comes from Blanca Peña-Méndez, Sustainable Merton Community Champion (Food Action Team) and Trustee.
Click here to read more.
‘Greening your home’ has been a hot topic of late, thanks to the Green Homes Grant. And now that many of us are spending more time at home (working or otherwise), we’re more aware of our energy use than ever before.
This series of blog posts is designed to show you how energy-efficient home improvements don’t have to cost you a pretty penny. Read more on how you can save money and energy in your home for free or on the cheap with CREW! This week, in the kitchen…
With lots of talk about the newly announced Green Homes Grant, we wanted to break it down for you with an explanation of measures covered, the amount of support you can apply for and more. Enjoy!
You have hopefully heard us talking about our community share offer for months, and perhaps you have been intrigued (we very much hope so). For those unfamiliar with exactly what a share offer is, we have put together this quick guide that we’re hoping will give you everything you need to say ‘yes’ to investing.
CREW was recently awarded £27,000 by the Wandsworth Local Fund to install another package of energy efficiency measures at the Devas youth club in Battersea. This second phase of our project with the club includes yet more LED lighting, along with secondary glazing and destratifiers and will be closely followed by phase 3 – a heat pump system – in autumn 2020 (following our upcoming share offer!)
To bring you up to speed with what’s been going on behind the scenes, we are shining the spotlight on these different areas of tech (some of which you may recognise, and others which may be brand new!) and how they will benefit the club and the local area.
Did you catch our #InnovationLab presentation a few weeks ago on renewable heat in London's civic and domestic buildings? In case you missed it, you can watch it again right here (1.5 hours)!
Just want the highlights? We live tweeted some questions here but, as promised, we have also provided a more detailed breakdown of the attendee Q&A session.
If you're interested in hearing more about our heat pump business plan, give them a read or contact us.
In case you missed it, we were recently featured in an article by Friends of the Earth Europe on how we are championing young people through community energy.
We got in touch with them via Twitter to share the stories of Yunus and Armelle along their journey from energy café advisor and EPC assessor to future green leader.
This story is set in London, where the government has been significantly reducing local councils’ budgets causing uncertain futures and financial insecurity. People are losing their trust in the government to effectively protect people’s futures. However, CREW Energy, a south-west London not-for-profit has found a local and accessible way to fight for systemic change by advocating for community energy and bringing power into the hands of the people.
Read the full story here.
After working with Devas Youth Club in Battersea back in 2019 to install solar panels, LED lighting and Hydromx, we are back for more! Following a successful bid for £27,000 worth of funding from the Wandsworth Local Fund, phase two began in July 2020.
CREW is currently implementing more LED lighting, secondary glazing and destratifiers. This will be followed by phase 3 – a heat pump system – in autumn 2020.
The measures put in place during phase one cut energy usage by 25%, amounting to a carbon saving of 11.72 tonnes per annum and a combined total of £3,400 on their energy bills. The measures for phases two and three will further reduce bills and get the club well on their way to meeting their climate targets. Find out more in our project case study.
We are delighted to be working with the club again – so much so that we will be launching our first share offer with them in September to help fund phase 3! Stay tuned for more details on how you can get involved.
On the surface, the UK Government's announcement that it is pumping £2bn (£3bn if you include the Local Authority Delivery Scheme) into the UK retrofit market is what we all what to hear. Investment in England's (oddly, the rest of Britain has not been included in the scheme) old leaky housing stock is just what is needed. You could argue about the sums, France is investing £9.5bn and Germany £34bn in similar schemes, but not the motivation. Invest cash in the right areas to stimulate the economy, so we can #BuildBackBetter. Great Plan!
So why the woe-betide headline? Read on as our Chair, Toby gives us his take on the Green Homes Grant.