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Warm Up for Winter with LESS

John Freeman

People in Lancaster and Morecambe now have access to a new independent energy advice service to help them stay warm this winter, thanks to the Home Energy Service, a community project run by local sustainability organisation LESS.

The service offers free energy advice on insulating your home, accessing grants, feed in tariffs, local suppliers and home renewable energy options and aims to help people save energy, reduce their fuel bills and cut carbon emissions through a team of local volunteers who will come and visit you in your home and go through a survey on your energy use.

This information is then passed on to a qualified energy officer, who produces a personal report for the household with specific recommendations for saving energy.

The service depends on volunteers, and offers training, support and regular get togethers. If you would like a survey, are interested in training to be one of the volunteers, or have any other queries relating to energy, contact LESS on, or telephone 01524 66100 and ask for Peter or Kathy.

Peter Wiltshire, the Energy Officer for the service has lots of low cost energy saving tips for people, to help them stay warm and save energy this winter. His reports also contain lists of local suppliers and the services they provide, as well as potential carbon savings from implementing his recommendations. He is also on hand to provide advice more generally on specific energy issues within the home, and to discuss introducing renewable technology and its benefits- both financial and environmental.

Kathy New, the project coordinator explained "The project has so many benefits- we can help people to stay warm, save money on their fuel bills and reduce their carbon emissions all at the same time.

"Lancaster district has a higher than average number of people living in fuel poverty - that is people who spend more than 10% of their income on energy, and has also had a high number of people dying from cold in recent winters.

"Our project aims to help those people by encouraging them to take positive steps to insulate their homes and reduce their energy use.

"Walking round after a frosty night, you can really see which homes aren’t properly insulated, and all that energy - and money- is being wasted. Our volunteers know their local communities, and they can really help people on a 1-1 basis."

"So far I have attended three training sessions, all of which have been interesting," says Steve Clarke of his experiences as a volunteer, "and have carried out four household surveys, all with people I know well, which is a great confidence booster.

"In a few weeks’ time I expect to move on to survey the homes of people I don’t know.

"I think that the service has a great potential for good, both in helping financially the less well off in the district and in suggesting ways in which people can reduce their carbon footprint."

Next month (January), LESS will have access to a thermal imaging camera, and this will be used to pinpoint specific areas of heat loss both to the outside world and within the homes surveyed.

The Home Energy Service project is run by LESS, a community interest company aiming to promote sustainable solutions for people across the Lancaster district and is joint funded by the Energy Peoples Trust and a Charities Aid Foundation Trust. The project is modelled on a similar scheme currently running in Shropshire (see which last year recorded average savings of £380 off fuel bills and 29% off carbon per household.

• More information about the service, and other LESS projects can be found on their web site