The awareness campaign highlights the importance of reducing emissions and adapting to the changing climate, and the Energy Saving Trust is using the opportunity to thank its partners for playing a part in a success story that’s seen thousands benefit from advice.
Energy Saving Trust delivers Home Energy Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government. Advice centres offer free, impartial energy saving advice and help people access a range of Scottish Government loans and grants. In 2016-17, it helped more than 92,000 households – more than a third of which were vulnerable to fuel poverty – resulting in an estimated £2.3m of additional annual benefits for households.
Home Energy Scotland delivers much of its advice over the phone. But they’re also aware that households at risk of fuel poverty can find it difficult to make phone contact, perhaps through language barriers, disabilities or because people may not know that help is available.
That’s why the partnership model was developed, where hundreds of organisations and community groups refer clients that may not normally call.
It’s an ideal arrangement: Home Energy Scotland reaches more people in fuel poverty, partners reach more clients, and householders benefit through staying warmer, and saving money. Win, win, win.
Home Energy Scotland is aware of different partners’ needs and have developed a range of straightforward services that let partners make referrals and help their clients.
The easy-to-use online portal allows partners to refer clients 24 hours a day. And the advice centres’ community liaison officers visit groups and organisations, run surgery events, give presentations, and provide resources and advice to help develop energy efficiency projects.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) is one example. They visit homes to check smoke alarms and provide safety advice. If they suspect someone’s in fuel poverty, they refer them to Home Energy Scotland for advice. Similarly, if Home Energy Scotland identifies someone who is vulnerable and at risk of a fire due to no working smoke alarm, they can refer the client to SFRS. Yet more mutual benefit.
Working with GP practices has been another big success. A large number of potentially vulnerable people attend flu clinics and, at the surgeries, advisors provide patients with simple, straightforward energy advice.
The initial exercise was in south east Scotland and saw more than 2,000 patients engaged with in less than six months; exceeding all expectations. The project is now considered a key activity for Home Energy Scotland and is being rolled out across the country.
Dr Narayan Shrestha, Programme Manager for Aberdeen Multicultural Centre, is also positive about the relationship.
She said: “Our partnership with Home Energy Scotland has given us the expertise to build our reputation and inspire trust amongst hard to reach communities, providing technical support and delivering effective and efficient demonstrations of energy saving measures, along with providing a web portal referral system.
“As a result, we have managed to address and involve communities who have never participated before.”
Energy Saving Trust will be promoting the valuable work these and other organisations do throughout Climate Week – as well as releasing some impressive statistics demonstrating how many people the Home Energy Scotland service has helped.