Two free, practical guides to help rural communities keep warm and cut bills this winter have been launched by ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England).
The Energy Efficiency and Affordable Warmth community guides, produced in partnership with Calor Gas, aim to help people reduce spending on fuel by using energy more efficiently in their homes.
The Energy Efficiency guide explains how families can make simple changes– such as insulation, draught-proofing, and low energy lightbulbs –to reduce bills.
“Tackling fuel poverty is important because the impact of cold homes on people’s health and wellbeing is significant."
It shows how volunteer ‘energy champions’ can help people in their neighbourhoods by passing on tips and pointing householders towards sources of professional advice.
And it explains how eligible households may be able to get help with improvements to their homes, such as boilers or loft insulation, through Government initiatives such as Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation.
The Affordable Warmth guide focuses on how communities can help households to stay warm and avoid falling into fuel poverty. It explains how the most vulnerable households can get help from the Government towards their heating bills.
It includes case studies of work carried out by members of the ACRE’s national Network of rural community councils, such as bulk oil buying schemes.
ACRE chief executive Janice Banks said: “With winter fast approaching, many families will be thinking about how they can cut their energy bills. Our guides are a good place to start, with plenty of advice and ideas.
“Evidence shows that rural households are twice as likely as their urban counterparts to struggle to afford to heat their homes, due to lower than average incomes and houses that are less energy efficient.
“Lack of access to cheaper fuel supplies is also a problem – 36pc of homes in rural areas are off the gas grid, so many households rely on fuels such as oil, electric heating, LPG or coal
“Tackling fuel poverty is important because the impact of cold homes on people’s health and wellbeing is significant. Many households are faced with a ‘heat or eat’ crisis where they are forced to choose between putting the heating on to get warm or buying food.
“Members of the ACRE Network are experienced at working with communities to help them stay warm and use energy more efficiently. Anyone who wants advice can download our guides or approach their local rural community council for help.”
Calor’s Corporate Affairs Manager Holly Sims said: “Calor is delighted to be supporting ACRE’s Energy Efficiency and Affordable Warmth guides which are full of useful advice and practical examples to help rural householders keep warm and use energy within their home in the most efficient way.”