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Archive for July, 2011

Are you ready for your energy bills to go up over £ 180 this winter?

How about our neighbours? Who do we know in Acock’s Green who might face a choice between necessities like food and heating?

What is the most cost-effective way to stay warm?

It’s not just a matter of being a bit uncomfortable and putting on extra socks and jumpers. From damp from condensation, to the stress of worrying about going into debt to pay bills, cold houses can make us ill. If we’re already ill, or are very young or very old, affordable warmth can be a matter of life and death.

There is lots of advice around about how to get warmer with less fuel – for example, The Energy Saving Trust Web site talks about getting a fair deal from energy companies, home improvements like insulation, draft proofing and double-glazing, and finding grants to help pay for the improvements.

Can every household (and business) in Acock’s Green be made affordably warm?

My answer … probably … but slowlyunless lots of us work together.

Why now?

British Gas are bringing in a huge rise in electricity and gas bills, just after Scottish Power did the same. Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says this will mean that millions of households will have to pay over 15% more.

There are probably hundreds of people in Acock’s Green – running homes or businesses – who will face ‘fuel poverty’ this winter.

The Transition Network is a hub for community-led responses to climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap energy. The aim of Transition is to build resilience for communities – and to help us improve our own quality of life.

Getting together as a community to help every home and business get properly insulated is a good example of a ‘Transition’ approach. The Sydenham Community Insulation Project looks like a reasonably local example of something along these lines.

Putting in loft insulation

They estimate that simply putting the recommended depth of insulation in a loft space can save a household £ 150 each year – which balances out the gas and electricity price rises expected. When I moved to Acock’s Green, my house was stifling hot in summer and expensive to heat in winter – it took me about 8 months to realise that none of the previous owners of the house had put in any loft insulation at all!

What do you think? Any ideas on how Acock’s Green people can work together to help our most vulnerable neighbours be affordably warm this winter – and every winter?

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