361 Energy CIC teamed up with national fuel poverty charity, National Energy Action (NEA) to mark Fuel Poverty Awareness Day at an event in Barnstaple on 26th February.  The invited audience included Peter Heaton-Jones MP, many district and town councillors and stakeholders in the sector such as North Devon Homes.  Ciaran Cronnelly, South West Regional Co-ordinator for NEA, introduced the issue and discussed fuel poverty rates in Devon and numbers of excess winter deaths.  361 Energy CIC have been helping households reduce their energy bills since the organisation was set up in 2012.  Thomas Store, Chair of 361 Energy CIC discussed how this work has evolved over the last few years.  In 2013 we set up 361 Empower as a pilot project in Ilfracombe with a grant from the Devon Funding Network.  This project was turned into a more comprehensive service across North Devon in the Spring of 2015 after we received a grant from the Ebico Trust.  This included advice on lowering energy bills by tariff and supplier switching as well as assistance to those in fuel and water debt.  We have been able to train front line workers in North Devon and assist many more residents after being awarded a Big Energy Saving Network project in partnership with North Devon Homes.

Highlight of the event was the premiere of a video case study made with North Devon Homes resident, Mr Phillips.  On a home visit, our Energy Champion, Nicola Corrigan examined Mr Phillips’ water meter and determined there was a water leak.  This was repaired but left Mr Phillips facing a huge water bill.  Nicola managed to get a portion of this debt written off and an affordable repayment plan set up for the rest.  She also enabled Mr Phillips to save on his electricity and gas by switching supplier and payment method as well as providing low energy LED bulbs.  Overall she was able to save the family around £3500.  Although only a few clients might benefit to this level, many can save around £200 by checking they are with the cheapest energy supplier or using the most appropriate payment type.

We are grateful for the support and funding we have received from NEA for this event.  The Empower service is funded until the end of March 2016 by the Ebico Trust and the Big Energy Saving Network has been funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change. The Empower video was produced by Firethought  http://www.firethought.net/

Photos at the event were taken by Tim Lamerton Photography  http://www.timlamertonphoto.uk/