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Volunteer project helps save on fuel bills

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Volunteer project helps save on fuel bills

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Published by Roisin Rowley-Smith for Riverside in Communities and also in Environment, Housing

A group of social housing tenants in Merseyside and Greater Manchester are hoping to have slashed the cost of their friends’ and neighbours’ energy bills, as part of a Cabinet Office pilot scheme.

Local landlord Riverside was one of six housing providers nationwide to take part in the Social Action Energy Pilot, which started in March this year.  The project was set up to find the best approach to change people’s habits in terms of energy efficiency in the home.  

A £10,000 grant helped Riverside recruit 20 energy champions and paid for energy monitors for volunteers, who worked with friends and family to offer tips on reducing energy consumption and household bills.

Raymond Duffy, from the Langley estate in Rochdale, said:  “It was great getting involved. I focussed on the pensioners in our neighbourhood and now instead of seeing them every now and again, I make a point of going to see them every week.”

Rhoda Wilkinson is Riverside’s strategic affordable warmth officer.  “Our volunteers trained with specialists, Global Action Plan, to learn more about how their friends and family could save money and energy.  We provided energy monitors, so that volunteers could see for themselves which appliances use the most fuel.”

At the start of the project, Riverside took meter readings at participating homes.  Changes in energy consumption are being analysed and the results will feed in to a larger government campaign to change behaviour.

The project sits alongside Riverside’s work to combat fuel poverty in its neighbourhoods and is one of its many volunteering initiatives. 

Michael Phillips, Riverside’s volunteering manager, added:  “Our volunteers gained such a lot from the project.  They were really enthusiastic and developed very strong links within their communities with some encouraging positive feedback from their neighbours.”

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