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Fighting fuel poverty

Blaenau Gwent’s largest social landlord is spending around £23 million by 2015 tackling fuel poverty. Tai Calon Community Housing is installing external wall insulation and new heating systems across the county to help keep homes warmer and cheaper to heat. It also has a team of fuel advisors who can visit tenants and show them how they could cut their bills and use their systems more efficiently.

It follows a recent newspaper report that “of Blaenau Gwent’s 16 wards, only one ward is classed as having a less-than average risk of fuel poverty.”

So far, Tai Calon has replaced more than 2,100 heating systems under its programme to bring all its 6 thousand plus homes up to the Welsh Housing Quality Standard by 2015.

Another 570 heating systems were installed in 2012 as part of a £8 million scheme to improve insulation and cut heating bills in properties of non standard construction.

Around 540 homes also had external wall insulation fitted as part of the Carbon Energy Saving Project. Often the organisation was renewing the heating and fitting insulation at the same property.

Tenants have told Tai Calon that the work has made a real difference to their lives. Their homes are now warmer and cheaper to heat. They also felt the work had improved the area and the environment in their communities.

The cost of the scheme was shared between Tai Calon and the energy company E.on.

The project has also helped reduce carbon output within Blaenau Gwent by more than 90,000 tons.

Tai Calon is now hoping to gain further funding to insulate around another 1,800 properties over the next six years under the replacement scheme to Cesp.

Last November, Tai Calon, with the support of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, launched the Energy Advice project. It recruited three advisors who offer tenant’s jargon free advice on everything from how to find cheaper tariffs, dealing with fuel debt and understanding their bills and heating controls. In just four months they have helped nearly 250 households to reduce their energy costs as well as helping 64 vulnerable tenants to claim a £130 Warm Home Discount rebate to their electricity account. That’s a total saving of over £8,320.

Tenants visited by the fuel advisors after having work done under CESP commented:

“The house is warmer and the credit on my meter seems to last longer’

“Can afford to put the heating on now where as before we couldn’t as it was costing too much…had to sit in the cold or use the electric fire”.

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