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Issue 8 Spring 2010

South Shropshire Housing Association – Eco-families Pilot Project Four pro-active South Shropshire Housing Association (SSHA) families have agreed to take part in a pilot project, with the aim to demonstrate that real people can engage with the issue of sustainable energy. Each household uses a different heating fuel, and will be tracked over several months to see how they can save energy and money, whilst doing their bit for the planet. Energy audits have led to action plans, and training has been provided to help families understand how to make their homes more energy efficient. David Hunt (pictured below), a tenant from

Bishop Castle, is taking part in this pilot because: "It is an eye opener for my children to understand the value of energy, whilst it is an interesting experience for us to know where the energy goes. This pilot will increase our awareness of energy efficiency, and will help us save money."

Not only will these energy champions benefit from lower fuel bills, but also from an improvement in their skills. They now use a plug-in energy monitor, a real-time energy monitor, and log onto to work out their carbon footprint and find ways of reducing it. This could potentially have a wider impact on their respective communities, once they start sharing their experience and knowledge. The project, which started in February 2010, is funded by SSHA and is delivered by Marches Energy Agency. Housing associations that would like to take part in a similar project are welcome to contact the Project Manager:

Training for Co-operative Staff MEA are working with the Energy Saving Trust to help deliver training to Co-operative Retail staff. The training will be cascaded to all staff of their 3,600 stores and will cover energy saving in the home and in-store.

The Co-op has ambitious plans - they are seeking to reduce their energy use by 25% by 2012 and 97.5% of their electricity is already from renewable sources. They have set up a system of Regional Energy Managers, Area Page 1 of 5

Energy Champions and Store Energy Champions to receive and cascade training. MEA's expert trainers will be delivering the training alongside the Regional Energy Managers across the country between now and April.

4th SECHURBA project meeting takes place in Athens database of new technologies that are emerging which can be applied to historic buildings. Information on all data so far compiled will be available for download from the partner website next month (

Representatives from all 7 partner countries involved in the SECHURBA project met in Athens in March to discuss project progress. MEA is the coordinating partner of the consortium, which is taking part in a 2½ year project looking at ways of making historic buildings more energy efficient and highlighting the role that such buildings can play towards historic urban communities' carbon reduction targets. The meeting comes hot on the heels of a recent report published by the Heritage Lottery Fund which estimates that heritage tourism contributes £20bn to the UK economy and has an important role to play in our economic recovery.

Partners were given a demonstration of the software tool that is being developed under the project to help decision makers choose what type of interventions might be allowed to be introduced into case study buildings which are mainly listed and usually situated in Conservation Areas. Each partner country has also been compiling a

The first day of meetings took place at a hotel which was a mere 10 minute walk from the Acropolis where an on-going conservation project is taking place using traditional materials and techniques to preserve the Parthenon and surrounding buildings.

Each project partner is looking at a number of case study buildings within their communities and will produce a strategy to reduce carbon emissions from the buildings by a minimum of 40% from current situation. Project Coordinator, Nicole Solomons, who is leading the project on behalf of MEA said: "Holding the meeting in such an historic location as Athens was the perfect setting to consider how such buildings have survived this long, and how much we can learn from the building methods and materials that were used at that time. By emulating their use of passive (nonmechanical) systems for ventilation, heating and cooling, could save us energy today."

Low Carbon Enterprise website launched Our newest team, Low Carbon Enterprise (LCE) has launched its website. LCE are our sustainable energy experts, working with businesses, local authorities, charities and community groups, and public and third sector organisations.

assessments of buildings to providing expert advice on energy saving measures and renewable technologies.

They are able to offer a range of services to help you and your organisation reduce its carbon emissions, be more sustainable and also save money. From initial energy

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Visit the new website

Shrewsbury Shop Front Display MEA received funding from Central Shropshire Partnership Sustainability Group to participate in their "Window of Opportunity" project. This is a way of putting some of the many empty shop premises in Shrewsbury town centre to better use by publicising activities and campaigns run by local environment groups in central Shrewsbury. We used the funding to raise awareness about climate change issues and to advertise the services of the ActionHeat Team and newly formed Low Carbon Enterprise consultancy team. The display consists of a series of posters highlighting the following issues: climate change science; energy in the home; renewable energy systems; sustainable transport and climate change and land issues. The display can be seen in a premises on the ground floor of the Pride Hill Shopping Centre, next to TK Maxx.

Be prepared for next Winter! This winter has been one of the coldest for a long time with householders needing more than ever to be able to keep their houses warm without the worry of more costly fuel bills. Energy prices have risen dramatically over the last few years and fuel bills are at an all time high. One of the best ways of ensuring that you keep the heat in your home, meaning that you save money on your bills is to ensure your home is properly insulated. The County's Affordable Warmth initiative Keep Shropshire Warm (run by MEA) is offering all home owners and private tenants the chance of huge insulation discounts. Having already assisted over 5000 households since it's launch in January 2008, the Keep Shropshire Warm team are pleased to announce that we are still able to offer insulation at last years prices. Project Manager Jo Meakin states "we are delighted to be

able to continue to offer the same reductions as 2009. Any home owner or private tenant that pays their Council Tax to Shropshire Council can get Cavity Wall Insulation from £89 and Loft Insulation from £89" This is going to prove to be a massive help to householders in a time when people are worried about their finances. Although winter is starting to come to an end it will pay dividends to invest now in preparation for next winter. We would suggest that the installation of both measures can save a household as Page 3 of 5

much as £300 per year on their energy bills, proving that it really does pay to insulate" Those aged over 70 or in receipt of benefits may also be entitled to free insulation subject to the availability of funding and further qualifying criteria. Keep Shropshire Warm can also advise on heating grants, energy efficiency, tariff switching or other financial help you may be entitled to. Contact the Keep Shropshire Warm Team on 01743 277123 or visit

Fuel Poverty research in Shropshire Shropshire is one of three areas of the country chosen to take part in a study into fuel poverty. The Hands Up Project aims to analyse the effects of fuel poverty and its impact on people's health and the local economy. It is believed that rural areas are particularly badly hit, due to the number of properties off the gas network. The Hands Up project is one being organised by the Commission For Rural Communities with active involvement from the rural Services Network and all local authorities in the three areas which include Shropshire along with County Durham and East Riding. MEA's Keep Shropshire Warm team has been drafted in by Shropshire Council to assist in the co-ordination of the "Hands Up" initiative across the county. The first phase of this scheme is well underway with 2,500 households in South Shropshire having been targeted with a specific questionnaire designed to gain a clear and accurate portrayal of how households in rural areas are being affected by rising fuel costs. Early indications show that 29% of those households targeted are spending more than 10% of their annual income on heating their homes - this exceeds the national average suggesting that fuel poverty can have a bigger impact on rural communities, many who live in hard to treat homes which are often unable to

take advantage of current government initiatives aimed at making homes more affordable to heat. Over the next few months a number of focus groups will be held throughout South Shropshire to gain further insight and speak to individuals directly affected by rising fuel costs. It is hoped that evidence gathered through this initiative can build a picture of fuel poverty in the rural areas and to assess why current affordable warmth initiatives seem to be failing to help in rural areas. It will also look at the effects this has on the health service and local economy. For further information please contact Jo Meakin on 01743 277123 or

Light Fantastic visits South Derbyshire Despite the cold, the sun warmed us up in Budgen's Car Park in Melbourne for the second Light Fantastic Event for South Derbyshire District Council. We had a steady flow of visitors throughout the day who were able to receive detailed advice on everything from light bulbs to feed in tariffs, warm front grants to draught proofing. Representatives from South Derbyshire Council were also able to refer visitors for insulation surveys, and hopefully subsequent installations. Staff of the store also came out for advice and information. Visitors: 270 Bulbs distributed: 550 TV Powerdowns distributed: 47 (not including those to be delivered) Computer Powerdowns distributed: 42 (not including those to be delivered) CO2 savings: 79,230 kg CO2 lifetime Retained Economic Benefit: ÂŁ37,856

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Stafford Light Fantastic – Stafford Half Marathon This was the first event in a series of five for Stafford Borough Council. We were assisted for the day by Natasha and Ben from Stafford Borough Council and MEA also brought a volunteer along as well. We were kept quite busy most of the day, with Natasha and Ben directing people to the stand which was located next to the start finish line. Most visitors already had low energy light bulbs in some of their fittings but not all. Many had struggled to find spotlights and GU10 replacements and we were able to direct them to online retailers as well as outlining the costs and savings associated with the bulbs. On the few occasions when the stand was quiet we were able to give Natasha some training in climate change and energy issues as well as outlining recent research in to attitudes towards energy efficiency. She was alarmed to find out her carbon footprint using our paper footprint calculator, having just flown back from Australia.

As well as light bulb enquiries we had discussions with community groups, one in Doxey needing a speaker on climate change (this has been passed to Sebastian). The second group are considering re-roofing their community building and wanted advice on solar panels. There was some confusion amongst people about the different types of solar panels and we were able to advise and point them to reputable installers as well as give them factsheets and discuss the new feed in tariffs. One lady

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had nearly fallen foul of one of the disreputable installers who recently cold called offering her a discount on a solar thermal system - £8000, down from £12000, when really the maximum should be £6000 and averaging £4000. The energy bike was popular with the fun runners and especially the children, but not with the half marathon runners, many of whom were struggling even to hold on to the bulbs we gave them. A very busy day and we look forward to the next.

MEA Spring Newsletter  

MEA Spring Newsletter

MEA Spring Newsletter  

MEA Spring Newsletter