It is well known that much of the housing stock in West Somerset is not adequate to keep us warm and healthy. Add to this the increasing pressure to meet carbon emission targets and clearly there is an urgent need to take action.
The Energy Saving Centre provides information on ways to improve houses by keeping the cold out, through draught-proofing and insulation, and on renewable energy technologies that generate electricity and heat. Visitors can see samples of draught-proofing, secondary glazing and insulation materials with simple guides on how they work.
Financial help may be available for making homes more energy-efficient but the criteria are complicated and subject to change – the Centre ensures their volunteers are up to date with the latest schemes and technologies. Incentives to install products that generate electricity or heat are provided by the feed-in tariff and renewable heat incentive but to qualify for these payments it is necessary to ensure that the house, installer and equipment have been approved. Certified installers and products can be found on the website www.microgenerationcertification.org and if the postcode is put in the nearest installers will be shown. To contact MCS phone 0207 0901082.
Renewable energy technologies are becoming more efficient and some prices are coming down. However, it can be hard to decide what is best for a property just from information provided by people selling products. There are many to choose from and it helps to find out from other people what works well and is value for money, and what is not so useful. The Centre collects knowledge gained by people who have tried things out, the benefits and the pitfalls. They have also followed up some of the offers being promoted by cold callers and found a wide variation in costs. If there are problems as a result of work done they can look for ways to tackle them.
High bills are a serious problem but help may be available – by switching supplier or tariff, getting a discount or improving the home. It is worthwhile looking out for new sources of help which could be introduced in the future.
THE ENERGY SAVING CENTRE gives free independent guidance on how to save money and energy in our homes. The Centre is run by the voluntary group Transition Minehead and Alcombe and is staffed by trained volunteers. It is open on Thursdays and Saturdays between 11am and 1pm in Minehead Co-Op car park. It is also possible to telephone and ask questions – contact Hester 01643 821768. If requested, trained volunteers can visit homes and give impartial advice on energy saving methods.