City Council creates Energy Advice Officer role to help Council Tenants save energy

Organisations involved:

Oxford City Council and the Citizens Advice Bureau

Overview:

The Council has two energy advice officers who visit social housing tenants to help them keep their energy bills as low as possible.  Detailed financial issues can be referred to the designed service from the CAB.

Background:

Fuel poverty can be defined as where people are struggling to afford to heat their homes to a reasonable temperature – it is caused by energy costs, income and energy efficiency of the home.  Council tenants pay for their own energy and are generally on lower incomes that other types of tenures so they are naturally at risk.

The Council has a strong commitment to reducing fuel poverty in the city, particularly in its own housing.  This was supported by an Oxford Standard consultation on tenants’ priorities and concerns as it showed that they had increasing concern about energy costs and fuel poverty.  They also indicated being visited in their home was a preference.

As a result, the Council recruited two energy advice officers to visit tenants in their homes.

Solution: 

The Energy Advice Officers aim to visit every Council home to advise on the following:

  • Energy saving behaviour – how can tenants save energy in small ways such as turning things off, understanding their heating system better etc
  • Energy saving measures in the building – referrals to upgrade boilers and heating controls, insulate the loft and draught proof can all make a difference
  • Energy bills – support with switching tariff, getting Warm Homes Discount

Where difficult financial or debt issues are found, the tenant is referred onto a supporting service from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.  They are also supporting the tower blocks refurbishment project, advising tenants on meter and tariff changes.

Outcomes and benefits delivered:

The aim is to target all tenants and so far 31% have been visited or an attempt has been made to visit.  A large number of internal referrals have been made including 40 boiler or heating control replacements and 125 loft insulations.

Its not easy to record all financial or other benefits from improved energy saving.  However, after a year, total recordable cost benefit to tenants was £73,296 (ie cash in the pocket of the tenant) and potential savings we are able to estimate were £4,464.

Lessons learned/conclusion: 

There has only been a year of the project so far and the Council is currently sending out a survey to tenants to see where we can improve what we are doing. 

Link for further info:

https://www.oxford.gov.uk/info/20167/your_home_and_estate/1114/how_we_can_help_council_tenants_lower_their_energy_billsContact

https://www.oxford.gov.uk/energygrants

Check out other funding opportunities on our LCO Funding page

 

Sign up for the monthly Low Carbon Oxford newslettersubscribe