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Rother MP and DECC minister of state Greg Barker addresses the DLWP clinic.

Advice clinics offer help with energy issues

Ready advice on how to keep your home warm and your energy bills under control is available during Energy Month at a series of clinics organised by local community groups for both individuals and voluntary organisations in Hastings and Rother. Nick Terdre reports.

Energy Month is an initiative funded by the government’s Big Energy Saving Network and the county council’s East Sussex Winter Warmth campaign to tackle fuel poverty and give people the knowledge needed to win the battle for affordable energy. The clinics are being run by a partnership of local community groups – Energise Sussex Coast, Horizons Community Learning, Hastings Voluntary Action and Rother Voluntary Action.

A couple of clinics were held last week – including one at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill to which local MP Greg Barker, a minister of state at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, lent his support – and further sessions will take place running into late March (see programme below). Riding high among people’s concerns is of course the energy bill, and help is available at the clinics to find the supplier which offers the best service for your circumstances, Richard Watson of Energise Sussex Coast tells HOT.

Richard Watson provides advice on bills.

“Bring along your bill and if possible your annual statement and we can advise you on switching supplier – in fact, we can do it for you on the spot,” he says. “The key things we need to know are the tariff you’re on, how many kilo-watt hours of gas and electricity you’re using, the rate you’re charged for this energy and let us know how you want to pay.

“If you’ve never switched before, you could save £200 a year – that’s the average saving estimated by the Energy Saving Trust. But some people save even more than that. You may not even have to switch supplier, maybe you just need a tariff which suits you better. In addition, paying by direct debit for a dual fuel account can save you nearly £100 a year.”

Advice on making your home more energy efficient, and on the grants and financial help which are available, can be got from the free Home Heat Helpline on 0800 336699. They can advise you, for example, on the Warm Home Discount worth £135 a year which is available to certain vulnerable groups, including older people receiving some forms of pension credit and families with small children or on low incomes. If you are eligible, they can put you straight through to your supplier to register for it.

Richard also mentions the East Sussex Winter Home Check Service which is available to those on certain benefits. This service provides a free check of your homes and will pay for small works such as improving insulation or repairing the boiler.

Happy customer

“This was a very interesting session with very enthusiastic and knowledge people,” local resident Jack Doherty told HOT after attending the clinic at the De La Warr. “There was really pertinent advice for energy problems in the home, and I picked up a fantastic reminder sheet with about 40 useful tips to save us money in the home and curtail global warming.

“There were some very proficient demonstrations of easy-to-fit aluminium reflectors for the rear of radiators and transparent easy-to-erect coverings for windows, to prevent heat loss to walls and glazing.” Jack also learnt about solar panels, the cost of which has come down a lot, and a highly efficient method of water heating using solar power. “All in all it was a most caring group of organisers with a warm message pleasantly delivered,” he said.

Demonstration on preventing heat-loss.

The funding from the Big Energy Saving Network is also going towards training ‘energy champions’ who will take the advice about saving energy, controlling bills and the potential of renewable energy out into the community, training others and giving advice as part of the network’s outreach programme.

Richard himself has been giving training to Amicus Horizon staff, council personnel, fire and rescue teams and various voluntary organisations. Other voluntary bodies which would like to take up the offer can contact Energise Sussex Coast or Horizons Community Learning.

All photos by John Cole.

 

Energy clinic timetable

Wed 19 Feb, 12.30-2.30pm: Links, Concordia Hall, Church Road, St Leonards

Wed 26 Feb, 10.30am-2pm: Four Courts Community Café, Sydney Close, St Leonards

Wed 26 Feb, 11.30am-1.30pm: East Hastings Children’s Centre, 46-48 Chiltern Drive, Hastings

Tues 4 March, 3-5pm: 5 Kennedy Court, London Road, St Leonards

Wed 5 March, 10.30am-2pm: Four Courts Community Café, Sydney Close, St Leonards

Wed 12 March, 10.30am-2pm: Four Courts Community Café, Sydney Close, St Leonards

Tues 18 March: 3-5pm: 5 Kennedy Court, London Road, St Leonards

Wed 19 March, 10.30am-2pm: Four Courts Community Café, Sydney Close, St Leonards

Wed 26 March, 10.30am-2pm: Four Courts Community Café, Sydney Close, St Leonards.

 

For further information call:

Energise Sussex Coast on 0844 415 2279

Hastings Voluntary Action on 01424 444 010

Rother Voluntary Action on 01424 217 259

Horizons Community Learning on 01424 204 136

Posted 16:57 Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014 In: Campaigns

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