Support for Flourish Homes

Helping tenants of a Somerset housing association improve their energy efficiency and cut their bills

Project duration: January 2007 to December 2011

People living in the Mendips are enjoying warmer homes and lower bills, thanks to a three-year partnership between the Centre for Sustainable Energy and Flourish Homes.

CSE joined forces with the housing association (previously known as Mendip Housing Association), based in the Somerset town of Shepton Mallet, back in 2007. Since then, we have carried out a number of different initiatives aimed at helping people living in Flourish Homes properties improve their energy efficiency and cut their bills.

The project provides an independent support and advice service to tenants and deals with issues they have regarding their energy use and answers questions.

Training and support is also provided to Flourish Homes staff to ensure that they are aware of the kinds of issues that may arise in terms of energy use and fuel poverty, and the recommendations they can make in response to these (e.g. energy efficiency behavioural changes and switching suppliers or tariffs).

Through this programme of training, outreach and one-to-one support the project aims to:

  • identify people who live in cold damp homes, who are struggling to pay fuel bills, or who have fallen into arrears
  • help people out of fuel debt where this has already become a problem
  • maximise clients’ income by ensuring that they receive the state benefits to which they are entitled (e.g. working tax credit, income support)
  • minimise tenants’ energy bills by ensuring they are aware of the various tariff and payment method available and helping them switch to the one that benefits them the most
  • increase tenants awareness of energy consumption in the home
  • provide advice on how energy use can be reduced - without lowering levels of comfort and/or well being
  • support clients in liaisons with the Housing Association regarding energy problems in the properties and the possible solutions

A strength of the project is that it provides for home visits to tenants whose energy problems are not easily solved ‘remotely’, e.g. by phone or by popping a leaflet in the post. This could include  malfunctioning heating systems, problems with damp and mould, high fuel bills or mounting debt to energy suppliers.

CSE’s trained energy advisors pay a visit to the home and provide tenants with detailed recommendations for cutting bills through ‘behavioural changes’, tariff selection and simple DIY tasks like draft reduction. For issues like damp and in cases where problems lie with the building fabric, reports are also shared with Flourish Homes estate staff who are then able to investigate the problems further.

CSE are also running an energy monitor pilot, whereby the team will loan out whole house energy monitors to tenants to enable them to find out what makes up their bills.

Additional services are offered to support tenants and staff to save energy in the home including:

  • a series of outreach events and advice surgeries to increase knowledge of benefits and services to reduce fuel bills and fuel debt, and general advice on good practice in the home to reduce energy use
  • a range of publicity articles to ensure residents and staff are aware of the free support that is available to them to help to save energy in the home
  • attendance at community events to share energy saving ideas with tenants

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