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Major Funding Win for Home Retrofit Advice Services

South West consortium one of six successful bids for new government funding

Plymouth Energy Community and partners of the Far South West Retrofit Consortium (FSWRC), including Community Energy Plus, are about to embark on an ambitious £1.4m project to design and test new methods of retrofit advice delivery across the South West region. Over the course of the project, the consortium will aim to provide in-person advice to approximately 13,000 people from across Devon and Cornwall.

The consortium comprises six community energy organisations in partnership with Plymouth City Council and Devon County Council:

The £1.4m grant for this new project comes from the Local Energy Advice Demonstrator programme, which is led by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero working in partnership with the South West Net Zero Hub. This project is one of six funded across the South West and will run for two years.

The project will drive engagement with housing retrofit to improve energy efficiency resulting in lower bills, reduced emissions and improved occupant health and wellbeing. Three population groups have been identified that represent a broad spectrum of homeowners across the region who are either often overlooked or seldom reached by the current advice provision available. These are the digitally excluded, low-income households and owners of traditionally built properties.

Consortium lead, PEC Project Manager Justin Bear said; “PEC are excited to lead this new project on behalf of this experienced and established consortia. The project will provide much needed resource to enable us to explore and refine new approaches to delivering in-person advice and engaging communities in housing retrofit, this is something that we don’t have the capacity to undertake under normal circumstances.”

Central to this project will be a focus on how best to conduct in-person retrofit advice visits in people’s homes, with high quality resources, advisor training and follow on support services all contributing to the solution. An iterative design and testing cycle will explore innovations throughout the customer journey. At the end of the project the findings will be shared with other retrofit service providers across the UK.

Dr Tim Jones, Community Energy Plus’ CEO said: “I am delighted that Community Energy Plus is collaborating in this project with our partners in Devon; we have already been developing work to support households in Cornwall who want to plan to futureproof their homes and this opportunity will allow us to engage with more people and to learn more about the best ways to improve our homes. As the challenges of a rapidly changing climate become more urgent, it is imperative that we adapt our homes to hotter temperatures, become more energy efficient and become less reliant on fossil fuel heating. We know that many people want to take action, but they are unsure about what to do first or don’t know which technologies would work best for their home. This partnership will allow us to develop new ways to engage with homeowners and help them be confident in starting the low carbon journey.”

Jon Rattenbury, South West Net Zero Hub Programme Manager, said; “We are pleased to be able to award this funding on behalf of the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero to six South West based groups that have shown a real appetite to support their communities to take action to save carbon and improve the energy efficiency of their homes. We look forward to working with these groups to share the learning from the pilot projects on providing tailored advice and developing the provision of advice to support as many people as possible.”

Justin Bear added; “This work is incredibly important as it addresses a number of important societal challenges – reducing regional emissions of greenhouse gases, improving living standards and occupant health and reducing bills at a time when many are struggling with the rise in the cost of living.”