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Web chats tv | Archived consumer chats | Energy efficiency

It's time to wise up to Energy Efficiency!

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Energy efficiency

Energy Efficiency Week it is an ideal time to give some thought to how badly our homes are behaving and take action! After all it will save us money! For some tips on the types of things we can do in our homes to save energy from the simple to the more ambitious, we spoke to 'Energy Saving' expert Tim Curtis from the Energy Saving Trust.

The Transcript

    Hello and Welcome to our live online chat! We are joined by Keith Marsh, Chairman of the Energy Efficiency Working Group, who is here to offer you hints and tips on how to make your home more energy efficient, so without further ado over to you Keith......
Keith said:   Hi! So lets get going with the first question.
Frankie wants to know:   Hi Keith, What are your top tips for making my home more energy efficient? "
Keith said:   Hi Frankie, If you look at page 41 of todays Daily Mirror there is a list of our top 10 tips. This can be cut out and kept! But why not ring the freephone hotline on 0800 587 2128, they will arrange for your energy company to contact you.
Jack the Knife wants to know:   "Im on a tight budget and obviously saving a bit of money would be such a bonus for me what sort of things can I do around the house that will cut my bills but wont cost me a fortune? "
Keith said:   Hi Jack, Well its obviously important that you do 'cut' your bills, there are some simple things that you can do. Close your curtains at dusk to help keep the heat in, turn down your thermostat by 1 degree C saves 10% on your bills, but the best advice I can give you is to ring the freephone helpline, because there are lots of grants available which might help you.
Yuseff wants to know:   Can you tell me more about the grants on offer and how I could apply for one of these to see if I am eligible?
Keith said:   Hi Yuseff. The grants vary around the country, but include subsidised loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, insulation for hot water tanks, reduced price low energy lighting, and many more. You apply by contacting the freephone hotline, and you will be eligible for something, whatever your circumstances.
Greg wants to know:   Is there any way I can rate my own home on energy efficiency?
Keith said:   Hello Greg. Rating your own home is not straightforward, but we can help you do this. Please ring the helpline, they will put you in touch with your energy company who can give you lots of good advice, and give you an indication of just how efficient your home is.
nick wants to know:   "Why are you doing this now? Why has it taken so long?"
Keith said:   Hello Nick. Actually we've been doing this for sometime now. Research shows that only 33% of our customers are aware of the schemes available, which is why we are now running the 'Take Advantage' initiative this month.
Theo wants to know:   "What appliances use the most electricity in the home? And which ones would you recommend me to cut down on?"
Keith said:   Hello Theo. Its difficult to give a full answer to a question like this in a few lines. However, one good example is tumble dryers - they use quite a lot of energy and savings can be made if washing is spun in the washing machine and then hung outdoors. I do understand that the British weather does not always allow this particularily at the moment! Another good example is when boiling a kettle, only fill the kettle with the amount of water that you need, or use one of the mini kettles which are especially good for students or single people.
Jacob wants to know:   "How much is in the kitty? Am i going to find i fill out loads of paperwork and you''ve only allocated a petty amount?"
Keith said:   Jacob, good to hear from you. Energy companies will be allocating a lot of money on these schemes. Grants have been distributed in the region of 150 million in recent years, and we have allocated around 150 million per year for the next 3 years. Initially, you dont need to fill out any paperwork and your enquiry can be dealt with over the telephone.
Lady V wants to know:   "What kind of factors will the dishing out of grants depend on?"
Keith said:   Hello Lady V. Everybody can benefit from these schemes, regardless of their circumstances. Obviously if you are on benefit you may be able to secure a special deal. However, titled ladies may fall outside of these arrangements! There are also regional variations.
Janey wants to know:   This sounds like a great scheme,but can you tell me exactly what can the grants be used for?
Keith said:   Hello Janey. Grants will vary around the country and there are lots of them. Typically they can include help towards loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, low energy lamps, hot water tank insulation, heating system upgrades etc..
Dude wants to know:   "Can I still get a grant for making improvements on my home if Im renting it?"
Keith said:   Yo Dude. Your landlord should make contact with us because he will probably qualify for some of the schemes. You can also qualify for things like low energy lighting, and appliance schemes where they are available.
Tina wants to know:   How will the Grants be monitored ie who checks that the money will be spent on making energy saving improvements to the home and that they are going to the right people?
Keith said:   Hello Tina. Often the grants are provided by energy companies carrying out the work at a reduced price. This way we can ensure that the work is carried out to a high standard, and the engery savings targets are met.
Luke wants to know:   "are the grants there to subsidise my costs or could they pay for the complete work you recommend?"
Keith said:   Hello Luke. Usually, customers will be asked to contribute towards the cost of the work. The grants will reduce the price considerably and as previously mentioned, often the energy company or their contractors will carry out the work. In some instances, customers on benefit may qualify for free installations.
David D wants to know:   Hi Keith, Can you explain to me what EEACS are?
Keith said:   Hello David D. EEAC'S are independent energy efficiency advice centres. There are 52 around the country, and there may well be one in your area. They are there to provide good quality energy advice and are put in place by the Energy Saving Trust... Alternatively you can contact your energy company for advice.
    So Keith, In what manner are they independent?
Keith said:   They are linked to the Energy Saving Trust, who are an independent body set up by Government, to help the country achieve its energy saving and climate change targets.
Sal wants to know:   "What would you say is an essential item to have in your home that would make it most classed as energy efficient?"
Keith said:   Hello Sal. The two most cost effective measures that you can carry out are probably loft insulation, and cavity wall insulation. If you insulate your loft you can save up to 25% on your heating costs. If you have a cavity wall and have it insulated this can reduce your energy bills by between 70 and 100 per year.
    I was just wondering Keith, have you made energy efficient adaptations to your own home?
Keith said:   Yes I have! I have cavity walls which are insulated, and I have insulation in my loft. I also use low energy light bulbs. When changing kitchen appliances I always try to buy 'A' rated items, because they are the most energy efficient. However, I have not done everything yet, and I will try to take advantage of the offers available!
nick wants to know:   "if you want to save money and the environemt shouldn''t you recommend bathing with a friend?"
Keith said:   Hi Nick. Yes, why not?! It will certainly save water, and energy and can be more exciting!
Mrs Jeffferson wants to know:   "Why are Energy Efficient lightbulbs so much more expensive then regular lightbulbs? "
Keith said:   Hello Mrs Jefferson. The design of the two types of bulbs is completely different. As a result energy efficient light bulbs only use a quarter of the energy and last up to 12 times longer. They are therefore much more cost effective and can save you lots of money. You can also take up an offer from your energy company to reduce the price.
    But Why would your energy company want you to be morE energy efficient and save money when its surely not good for their profits?
Keith said:   We all have responsibility to help protect the environment and energy companies are very aware of this. Supplying energy is a very competitive business, and if energy companies wish to keep their customers they must help them become more energy efficient and thereby reduce their bills and help the environment.
nick wants to know:   "do you have any special subsidies for OAPs"
Keith said:   Hi Nick. The offers that I have described are open to everybody. There will be some special offers for OAP's who are on benefit. These will vary around the country, and I would encourage pensioners and everybody else to find out more.
Worried wants to know:   "Any tips on how I can get my landlord to claim some of these grants?"
Keith said:   Dear Worried. Landlords can be difficult to deal with, although I know some good ones! You could try buying him a drink, paying your rent (?) and telling him the phoneline is free! Seriously though, there is nothing for him/her to lose by asking the question 'Are there any grants for me?' There probably are.
    Well I'm sorry to say that's all we have time for! Thankyou for taking part and sorry to those whose questions we didn't have time to answer...
Keith said:   Thank you. Its been fun! Please, please, please dont forget to ring 0800 587 2128. Bye!
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