The enthusiasm of the group to make a difference on climate change seems to have been noticed by people far wider than the village. This has provided all the residents of Hook Norton with a chance to be the first in the country to access 2 new government funded schemes through the Energy Saving Trust (EST) - you may well have seen their advertising campaigns recently on the TV. If you want to see how you can make annual savings of several hundred pounds per year, or access a £4,000 grant and a £4,000 interest free loan, then read on!
Home Action Plan - savings on your annual energy bill
The first of these is the Home Action Plan a service where a trained energy assessor comes into your home and provides very specific and tailored advice on what you can do to save energy and money depending on your own precise circumstances. You'll see there is a leaflet on this as the centre-fold pull out to this issue and further information at the web site: www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/homeactionplan. Since the government is heavily subsidising the service to make it available at £99 they are piloting the service in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire and within this Hooky is one of the two national community pilots.
Those of us who have had Surveys already felt it worthwhile sharing common recommendations as they appeared in several of the reports because of common services to Hooky and similarities across groups of house type. So it seems that in Hook Norton the measures which typically make the greatest difference to reducing our energy bills and reducing our contribution to climate change are: change boilers (even relatively new ones) to more efficient oil condensing boilers, increasing the amount of loft insulation to 250mm, cavity wall insulation for newer houses and solid wall insulation for older ironstone houses, use of solar panels to heat hot water, double glazing and using smart driving tips to use less fuel.
If all this sounds of interest and you want to see what is best for you then take a look at the colour leaflet.
Green Neighbourhoods - up to £4,000 grant and £4,000 interest free loan
Ken Brady from EST came up from London specially to talk to us about the Green Neighbourhood Programme, an initiative that will be launched nationally in April 2009. The aim of the project is to demonstrate how communities can reduce their carbon footprints and energy bills by around 60%. They are particularly keen to show how a community that does not have access to mains gas and has a mix of houses including older "solid wall" (ironstone in the case of Hooky) can make these large savings. Having seen what a good response and level of constructive feedback they got from Hook Norton when they piloted the Home Action Plan we now have the chance to be first in the country to take up these grants if we can bring together 10 households that want to make these significant savings. This is fantastic given that it is going to be the 100 most active communities nationwide that will be able to secure the grants.
The Energy Saving Trust will provide matching funding to the same level as the interest free loan the householder takes out. So for someone taking out a 6 year interest free loan of up to £4,000, EST will match that with a £4,000 grant, if you went for a £2,000 loan then a £2,000 grant. Say you decided to take out a £2,000 loan then the total of £4,000 can then be invested in making significant whole-house energy saving measures in the home such as the ones listed above in the Home Action Plan. You will be able to track the energy savings you make with the Smart meters that will be installed as part of the programme. The savings are expected to cover a significant element of the monthly repayments on the interest free loan. For example, on a £2,000 loan with a matching £2,000 grant, repayments would be approx £28 per month and of this around £19 could be expected to be covered by reduced energy bills. This means that in effect for a payment of £9 per month for 6 years you would be able to make an immediate investment of £4,000 in improving the energy efficiency, comfort and value of your home.
On the night of the meeting 12 households said that they were interested in taking the next step in applying for this green neighbourhoods pilot scheme. This is not restricted to members of the Low Carbon Hook Norton Group and to qualify for the scheme we need to get together at least 10 households to make significant savings. So if you are interested and can move quickly by February/March to start to install energy saving measures in your home then please contact Tim Lunel to talk through how you could become part of the Hook Norton Green Neighbourhood scheme and take advantage of this great new EST grant scheme.
Finally, Ramsey Dunning recounted a fantastic anecdote of door to door travel to Scotland by public transport from Hook Norton - hopping on a bus outside the Church to Chipping Norton with a connecting bus to Oxford and on to London, overnight sleeper train to Edinburgh and then onto the highlands. What's more the connections were just as smooth on the return journey - is this Switzerland we ask? As if the stress free journey was not enough of a bargain in itself he said the train fare can be as little as £19 if you are among the first to book three months in advance - so where's the catch? - We couldn't find one; why not give it a try!
Next meeting is to take place on Wednesday 14th of January - many thanks to James Clarke for continued hospitality of the Brewery Visitors Centre for meetings.
Hazel Hope & Tim Lunel (for further information contact Tim Lunel 730446)