Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

Innovative Durham energy scheme combats costs

An innovative Durham community scheme is helping householders in the area to ensure they are not paying over the odds for their energy.

Community Energy Champions, who have been recruited from local residents in Craghead and South Stanley, are now spreading the word in the area about saving energy, and are giving away around 500 energy monitors to residents.

Durham County Councillor Janice Docherty, a director of the development trust, explained that the Energy Champions approach had been chosen because energy companies tended to have only very limited success when trying to work with communities to save energy.

“Energy companies were going round the houses and even offering people free energy-monitoring gadgets but people were just closing the door,” she said.

The schemes’ organisers now hope that it will help to inspire other localities to look for ways to reduce energy costs and consumption. The groundbreaking initiative has made headlines in the wake of the Government’s’ announcement that energy companies will now be required to contact consumers at least once annually to tell them they could be on a cheaper tariff.

Craghead and South Stanley Energy Saving Project is the brainchild of Craghead Development Trust and is funded by a £41,000 government grant under its £10 million Local energy Assessment Fund, or LEAF, initiative.

The free energy monitors have been distributed to show householders how much energy they are using, and early findings from the project indicate that the majority of householders are unaware of exactly what tariff they are on.

It is hoped that the new scheme will be successful in educating individuals in the area about the best ways to save money on fuel bills.

Energy Champion, Debbie McCamley, of Woodside Gardens, Craghead, said: “I have noticed that people’s level of knowledge about energy saving is very low – they basically know nothing about it. I didn’t know much at all, either, but I have learned it’s very interesting and with what I know now I’m sure I’ll be saving money.”

The community’s bid for project funding grew out of major energy-led Durham County Council regeneration initiative, in which £3.4 million-worth of improvements are being carried out to homes in Craghead.

That initiative has included re-roofing and fixing high-efficiency external insulation to traditional terraced homes in the Wylam Street and Railway Street area.

County Councillor Neil Foster, Portfolio-holder for Regeneration, said: “It’s an excellent example of a community group helping themselves with an innovative link to exciting new technology.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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