What you can do today

What can I do right now?

There’s loads you can do right now to improve the energy efficiency of your own home and for those around you as well as fighting for fuel poverty of a wider level.

1. Get together with people in your community.

For certain vulnerable groups there are grants available for loft insulation and other energy efficiency measures, so helping your neighbours, workmates, friends or people at your place of worship get access to these schemes can go a long way to eliminating fuel poverty in your area.

There is loads of information out there about how to make your home more efficient and the grants available. The Energy Saving Trust is a great place to start. If you would like tailored advice about what’s available to you, the Home Heat Helpline is a wonderful service:

You can ring them free on 0800 33 66 99 and get advice on benefits, insulation grants and special payments options if the bills are getting out of control.

If you work with vulnerable people and would like to make a referral, then it is worth knowing that Leeds City Council have a Hot Spots Affordable Warmth Referral Scheme that allows community workers and volunteers to refer vulnerable clients to the Energy Saving Trust for advice on energy/grants, benefits and fire safety.

Share knowledge/skills! A group of residents of Chapeltown have got together tackle fuel poverty in their neighbourhood. As part of Chapeltown Development Trust, they have founded Sustainable Chapeltown and have secured funding from Leeds City Council to train two young or long-term unemployed people to level 3 City and Guilds in energy awareness. Get in touch with Development Officer, Riley Coles for more information at info@chapeltowndt.org.uk or ring 0113 2454344.

2. Swot up!

Fuel poverty is a massive issue at the moment, so there is lots of really up-to-date information on the issue. Here’s a list of some recent articles:

Chilling: Fuel poverty is killing 2,700 people a year. Shock report as Sun calls for fair energy deal – The Sun

Fuel poverty ‘will claim 2,700 victims this winter’ – The Guardian

Postcode lottery on energy prices: Firms charge up to £180 more in some areas – The Daily Mail

Fuel poverty and energy costs explained – BBC

Two campaign groups also have good information: Fuel Poverty Action (a London-based direct action group) and the End Fuel Poverty Coalition.

If you want to get really stuck in, then John Hills published an independent report this month that gives a comprehensive review of the level and impact of fuel poverty in the UK.

For information specific to Leeds, check out the NHS Leeds site on fuel poverty and also Leeds Initiative which has recently produced a plan for the city up to 2030: Vision for Leeds 2030.

To deliver the government’s plans to eliminate fuel poverty by 2016, Leeds City Council developed the Leeds Affordable Warmth Strategy which is worth a read. It is also useful to know that in the City Priority Plan Leeds City Council has committed to ‘improving housing conditions and energy efficiency’.

3. Lobby

Friends of the Earth have a campaign called Demand Change which calls for a public inquiry into the scandalous power the big six energy companies have over consumers and politicians. There’s also a great map which shows the relationships between parliament and the big six on the blog Losing Interest.

You could also write to your MP asking them to sign up the End Fuel Poverty Coalition’s five pledges. Or, better still, meet up with your MP or councillor and see what they know about Leeds’ strategy to address Fuel Poverty.