Southern Housing Group, one of southern England’s largest housing associations, has created a new Home Energy Advice Team (HEAT) to help tackle fuel poverty and rising energy and water costs.
HEAT was created in response to feedback received from residents who said they would like to receive face-to-face advice to help cope with escalating energy costs.
To date HEAT has applied to clear £42,000 of resident utility debt, recommended savings of over £21,000, helped residents access £19,460 through the Warm Homes Discount, and installed more than 100 energy and water saving devices.
Southern Housing Group’s Chief Executive, Tom Dacey, said: “Over the last eight years energy bills have more than doubled, with the average dual fuel bill costing £1,400*. The cost has been rising between 8% and 12% each year**, and with 20% of households already in debt to their energy provider***, there’s a strong need for this kind of service.
“Our residents have told us that they are facing the winter with less income and increased costs, so the face-to-face energy advice our team is offering will help to ease these financial pressures.
“HEAT also forms part of our commitment to our residents to help provide comfortable, energy efficient homes with low running costs.”
HEAT is predicted to save each household they visit over £200 a year (based on current utility costs), and achieve health and comfort benefits by enabling residents to heat their homes more efficiently.
HEAT recently visited Southern Housing Group resident, Jackie, after she was referred through Islington Council. She had an outstanding balance of over £2000 and an annual bill of £878. With HEAT’s help Jackie cleared £2372 of debt from her water bill and saved £379 a year on future bills.
Jackie said: “It is a huge relief to have my water bill paid off, I don’t know what I would have done without HEAT’s help, I cannot thank them enough and would recommend everyone to have a visit.”
HEAT complements the Group’s wider response to helping residents as it works in partnership with the Group’s financial and employment skills advice services, which can provide help and guidance on managing money, paying off debt and finding training and employment opportunities.