With temperatures set to plummet and bills for the first half of the winter landing on the mat, a Devon charity is urging people to get in touch so they can help those who are vulnerable reduce their energy bills and save money this winter.
Staff and volunteers from Devon Communities Together are available until March 31 to give free advice to people who need assistance with saving energy and money, with one-to-one advice available alongside community-based drop-in sessions such as presentations to groups, clubs and special events organised by community organisations.
As part of Big Energy Saving Week (January 20-26, 2020) the DCT team is also running drop-in clinics at Axminster Tesco (Monday 20); Tiverton Market (Tuesday 21); Newton Abbot Market (Wednesday 22); Cullompton Community Hall (Friday 24); and Wembworthy Village Hall (Saturday 25).
In Devon fuel poverty is above the national average, with one in five rural households and one in ten households overall classed as fuel poor. New research has also revealed a significant gap in consumer understanding about managing household energy use and the simple steps people can take to reduce their carbon footprint.
The survey, conducted by Citizens Advice and the Energy Saving Trust, shows more than a third (36%) of British households have not made changes to their energy usage at home in recent years.
The charity’s Martin Rich said: “For many people in Devon, saving energy over the winter period is much needed but hard to engage with because of the doubts created by contradictory advertising campaigns and the media commentary they attract. We try to give an honest assessment based on several years of running such schemes and our own experiences of trialling the recommended changes to the way we buy and use energy.
“We’re here to give direct support, and if you know someone who could benefit from advice or would like us to attend a community event, please do get in touch.”
Looking at other ways to reduce fuel bills in the county, the charity’s Devon Oil Collective enables people to purchase oil at a competitive price through its membership scheme, which it runs in conjunction with a large agricultural co-operative AF Affinity Ltd.
Affinity links the scheme in Devon with others across rural England to increase the negotiating power. Members have access to a savings plan to spread the costs of payments and there is a monthly ordering opportunity. Devon Communities Together receives a rebate of a penny per litre delivered to assist its community development work across the County.
Mr Rich said: “Oil clubs are a real help to those who do not want to ring around to find the best price, they keep suppliers on their toes, encourage them to price competitively and they can look after the more vulnerable members of communities. We encourage the development of local clubs and our county-wide scheme helps those who do not have a local group.”
For help with reducing fuel bills this winter, email firstname.lastname@example.org or aggie@Devoncommunities.org.uk or call 01392 248919. For information on the Devon Oil Collective, email email@example.com
Donate to our fundraising arm, LOVE Devon and help us do even more work to support people in fuel poverty. Donate on line here.