Soaring wholesale gas prices have caused huge increases to consumer bills, with millions now expected to face fuel poverty for the first time. In response, a quarter of UK households are looking at improving the efficiency of their homes, with insulation, switching energy suppliers and installing solar panels named as the most common methods being considered, according to data from the Office of National Statistics.
As well as reducing bills, research by the International Energy Agency (IEA) has also highlighted the importance of efficiency when it comes to reaching net zero, with these improvements projected to provide 40% of the planned global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions over the next 20 years.
Given the events unfolding in the sector, Community Energy England (CEE) – the not-for-profit organisation created by and for those involved in community energy – is making its annual Community Energy Fortnight (CEF) an #EffiencyFirst event, exploring everything from fuel poverty upskilling to best practice for local authorities. Focusing on the importance of an efficiency first approach, Thrive is joining CEE in encouraging as many communities as possible to get involved with the fortnight running from 11 – 25 June.
Local energy groups have a unique place at the heart of their communities as trusted experts on energy. Community Energy England is providing advice for people who want to get more involved and provide professional support to those struggling with fuel poverty. Here are just some of the ways to do so:
1. Start conversations and build momentum
CEF is ultimately a national event series. There are many opportunities to either attend or host an event, helping connect you with other likeminded people across the country and discover what support – such as funding and training – is available.
2. Sign up for starter training in fuel poverty and energy advice
During CEF, several organisations and community energy partners will be hosting starter training for those who want to get out into their communities and offer support and advice around fuel poverty and energy efficiency.
3. Go further
As part of its longer-term activity, CEE wants to see how many people it can encourage and upskill to offer energy advice and fuel poverty support by winter 2022/23. The ‘Community Energy Advice Challenge’ will aid people in getting trained to the nationally recognised NEA Level 3 Energy Advice standard. However, this is dependent on CEE and its partner organisations getting additional funding, so it’s worth registering your interest here.
What is Thrive doing to support?
At Thrive, energy efficiency is the focus for our Community Benefit Programme – an annual initiative we run alongside the Centre for Sustainable Energy which provides energy efficiency grants to important shared buildings close to our clean energy sites. Since starting the scheme in 2016, we’ve awarded 41 grants to 33 community buildings, totalling over £120,000. From energy efficient taps to an insulated roof, these improvements save 68 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.
As well as being the main sponsor of this year’s Community Energy Fortnight, we will be hosting a webinar for community energy groups looking to scale up local renewable energy projects, including insight on how to obtain the right funding. We will draw on our experience supporting Ambition Community Energy, in which we recently provided them with a £4 million loan to get England’s tallest wind turbine into construction.