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Government Scheme Aims to Cut Fuel Poverty

21st August 2018

Through a Government initiative called ECO Flexible Eligibility, national energy-saving specialists BillSaveUK has worked with Cheshire West and Chester Council to help local residents who might be struggling to pay their energy bills, or whose health might be at risk through living in poorly-heated homes.

The scheme launched in the county in the spring and in its first six weeks of operation, 15 fuel poor households had vital home insulation measures installed, completely free of charge, potentially saving them hundreds of pounds on their annual energy bills.

One such customer is Cathryn Dewse (39) of Shocklach in Malpas. Cathryn lives in a two-bedroom semi-detached property with her two young children and receives child tax credits, housing benefit and council tax support. Her monthly electricity bills for all her home heat and power add up to around £120, accounting for a sizeable proportion of her monthly budget. Cathryn said: “I’d heard that having your home insulated could make a difference to your bills, but it’s just one of those things you never get around to. We have storage heaters and there was a little bit of insulation in the loft, but you just pay your bills each week and don’t think much more of it.”

Through the ECO Flexible Eligibility scheme, Cathryn’s family was identified as a household which might qualify for free home energy-saving improvements. An Energy Saving Advisor from BillSaveUK called at Cathryn’s house to explain what she might be entitled to.

Cathryn continued: “When the Advisor called, they talked about the energy-saving measures which would be suitable for my house as well as how they could be installed, at no cost to me. After I agreed to go ahead, they came and did a survey, taking photos of different parts of the house and measuring up so they knew how much insulation I’d need for the walls and in the loft. Then, a few weeks’ later they installed it all. It was really straightforward and I didn’t have to pay anything.”

BillSaveUK installed cavity wall and ‘top up’ of loft insulation at Cathryn’s home, which is approximately 27 years’ old. The Energy Savings Trust states that a gas-heated semi-detached property could save as much as £145/year on energy bills through having cavity wall insulation installed, and a further £130/year with the recommended 270mm of loft insulation. Cathryn added: “Because it’s so warm at the moment, I haven’t had the heating on so don’t know how much of a difference the insulation has made. But, it makes sense that I should save money on my bills when the weather gets colder – and I haven’t really had to do anything or pay anything to achieve that.”

Around 2.5million UK households are classed as living in ‘fuel poverty’ and to make matters worse, these homes are often using more energy than they should be, due to poor insulation or inefficient boilers.

Aiming to tackle this issue, as of April 2018 nationally more than 4,400* vulnerable UK homes have had energy-saving improvements installed under the ECO Flexible Eligibility programme. These have been delivered through 67 Local Authorities, 18 of which are using BillSaveUK’s national network of qualified energy-saving advisors and installers.

Eligibility for having products installed in the Cheshire West & Chester Local Authority region include households where the total income is below £20,000, or £26,000 if children live at the property. Other factors which will also mean a household could be considered for the scheme are: the age of the residents; those who are in receipt of benefits; those who are suffering from certain illnesses; or households with high heating costs – determined according to set parameters.

If homeowners meet the criteria set by the Council, they’ll be offered one or more suitable energy-saving products, to help improve the comfort of their home and reduce their energy bills. The Council’s Statement of Intent, which notes the eligibility criteria, can be found on the Council’s website.

To find out more call 0800 368 8388 or email laflex@billsaveuk.com

*Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy