This winter has not been as cold, so far, as the previous one, but one of the hottest topics in the media has been energy bills and related issues. The rapidly inflating prices and excess profits of the big six energy companies have been hard to ignore. The majority of us in Redland ward, living in a historic city like Bristol, have the character but disadvantage of traditional, solid walled, draughty homes that are both ‘hard to heat’ and ‘hard to treat.’ So what can we do about it?
I was recently discussing this on community radio – the BCFM Well-being show. Co-incidentally sharing the programme with someone from AgeUK who was very concerned about the effects of cold weather on older people at home in the city.
The solutions are in many ways up to us as much as the government. Both are needed in my view.
In Bristol we’ve been lucky to have a grassroots initiative Bristol Green Doors which has opened up an inspiring cross section of improved homes to visitors across the city. I took part in their first year, as a homeowner with “work in progress’ to share, and another time compiled a number of their case studies. It’s one of many lively projects in the city under the umbrella of Bristol Energy Network. My own main contribution to this is the eductional initiaitive I created a few years ago called MakeyourhomeEco.
This runs participatory short courses that help demystify what we can do to improve our homes’ energy performance and stimulate more action. More about this from another site I run: http://makeyourhomeeco.wordpress.com/
Thanks to a successful funding bid I’m now preparing to run a series of courses in the city, open to all, in partnership with the local energy group in Easton – see details http://www.eastonenergygroup.org/advice/make-your-home-eco-course
Of course we also need to government to start acting responsibly and reinstate effective support for householders, so the draughty, hard to treat buildings are brought up to a decent standard, and get to grips with energy companies so they contribute enough to energy efficiency instead of keeping us addicted to expensive energy. Then the scandal of winter hypothermia deaths in this country would start to reduce. How different from the fossil-fuel-addicted approach we currently face, with councils being bribed to take fracking developments that could poison our future and threaten the climate!
1 thought on “Cold comfort from a hot topic this winter”
In a very positive move by the council Green Cabinet member Cllr Gus Hoyt is taking a paper proposing a council initiaitive to get schemes in place for upgrading homes in the city, using a preferred Green Deal provider and a source of Energy Company Obligation money. http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Green-Deal-City-seeks-major-cut-energy-use-ahead/story-20448716-detail/story.html
What a contrast to the government’s fossil fuel and nuclear fixations, which do nothing to help ordinary people cut their bills and keep feeding the old energy dinosaurs. Helping residents access good deals to make homes energy efficient is an urgent need.
We’ve seen the decline in energy saving work since the government cancelled the grants system a year ago and brought in a privatised Green Deal with high interest rates that discourage action to upgrade our draughty, cold homes. A trusted, local scheme is sorely needed. More people are aware now that high energy bills are not inevitable, but they need leadership and clear, practical help to get measures into their homes.