The future of tackling fuel poverty is through a Whole House Solution
Blog written by Nigel Brady, Director of Bryson Energy
Energy Saving Week (30th Oct to 5th Nov 2017) provided a great opportunity to raise awareness of how householders can make small changes in their home to help tackle the cost of energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the leading reason for climate change.
It was great to see all the key players who work in the energy world across Northern Ireland coming together to share and promote top tips to help householders save energy this winter. The top tips include:
- Close curtains at night to keep the heat in.
- Avoid blocking radiators with furniture.
- Turn off lights when they are not needed.
- Electrical appliances on standby cost money – switch off!
- When buying electrical appliances, choose the most energy efficient. (A is best and D is worst).
- If possible use a shower instead of a bath.
- Only fill a kettle with as much water as you actually need (cover the element of an electric kettle).
- Never leave mobile phones on charge overnight.
- Don’t leave your fridge door open as it takes energy to cool down again.
- Defrost your fridge and freezer regularly
During 2017, we have seen some extreme weather conditions across the world and records have been broken in relation to the hottest temperatures being recorded in our seas. There is no doubt that globally the greatest threat continues to be that of climate change.
But on a local level Northern Ireland experiences high levels of fuel poverty, affecting up to 42% of our households, one of the highest rates in Western Europe. Many households face the challenge on a daily basis of whether to heat or eat and as we head into winter this choice becomes more acute.
Our role in Bryson Energy is to help households who are experiencing fuel poverty. Of course any reduction in energy use not only reduces household costs but also reduces negative impact on the environment. Therefore it is no surprise that we in Bryson Energy have focused our attention on these two areas of tackling Climate Change and contributing to the alleviation of fuel poverty.
We operate out of offices in Belfast, Enniskillen and L/Derry. We work with a wide range of partners to deliver a range of energy programmes including:
- independent energy advice for NI households,
- home visiting programmes for NIHE tenants,
- fuel poverty and health related programmes,
- energy grants administration,
- oil buying clubs,
- budgeting advice,
- benefit checks and
- several retrofit programmes in partnership with a range of organisations.
One of our key highlights in the last year has been managing twenty seven oil clubs in partnership with NIHE recruiting over four thousand members and coordinating the delivery of over five million litres of oil with overall savings of seven percent for households. However, at its core is the provision of impartial, independent energy advice for households, which last year saw over twenty one thousand households across Northern Ireland receiving energy advice. This advice promotes energy efficiency in the home and signposts householders to any available grants for energy improvement.
What is the future of tackling fuel poverty?
We have over twenty two years of experience working in this area and from our knowledge; we have learnt that fuel poverty will not be solved by one single solution. There is no silver bullet, the cost of fuel; the energy efficiency of the home and the household income all play a part. As a result we are actively promoting a Whole House Solution approach to fuel poverty. This means not only installing energy efficiency measures but brings together a wide range of interventions such as advice, brokering, budgeting, employment options and utilising IT solutions to control energy usage. As part of demonstrating this approach we commissioned several reports from Ulster University to reinforce our knowledge and experience. These reports can be accessed through the Bryson Energy website. www.brysonenergy.org
I believe that a Whole House Solution is the best way to energy proof households in Northern Ireland against an uncertain future of rising energy prices and fuel poverty.
For free and independent energy advice call 0800 14 22 865
For more information on the work of Bryson Energy see www.brysonenergy.org.