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Over 400 residents benefit from energy saving help as council approves strategy to tackle fuel poverty and lower carbon emissions from homes

Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant residents have benefitted from energy saving schemes through Switched On Portsmouth, since it was launched six months ago. Schemes include fully-funded gas central heating and installation, emergency boiler replacement and energy-saving home visits.

The news comes months after the council approved the “Energy and Water at Home” strategy; aimed at building on work taken to tackle fuel poverty in Portsmouth and offer a range of services to all home owners to help them lower their energy use.

Switched On Portsmouth was launched in November 2019 in order to house all of the Council’s energy saving schemes and initiatives. Allowing people to more easily access the help and support that they need through a single website and team.

The Council has worked hard to develop schemes to tackle fuel poverty. It is estimated that fuel poverty affects 12.1% of households in Portsmouth, equating to over 11,000 households. The launch of Switched On Portsmouth and the accompanying strategy gives additional scope to provide support to all of the households in the city, not just those in fuel poverty. It is hoped that this focus will help to reduce carbon emissions, as well making energy more affordable.

A strategy to help all homes in the city to use their energy better

The new strategy looks to provide a framework for support for all households up until 2025. In the early stages the strategy will look to formalise and bolstering the council’s approach to tackling fuel poverty. Since 2017, Portsmouth residents have been benefiting from award-winning fuel poverty mitigation initiatives run by the council’s Energy Services team. These initiatives will be expanded and scaled in the initial phase to reach more households with appropriate advice.

The vision put forward by the council is “to ensure all homes in Portsmouth use energy and water as efficiently as possible for an appropriate level of comfort, safety, health and dignity; and that every Portsmouth household can afford their energy and water bills.”

Being unable to afford to adequately heat the home or use energy for other essential activities, such as cooking and cleaning, contributes to social isolation, poor health outcomes, an increase in hazards in the home, and impedes child development.

The councils ‘Energy and Water at Home’ strategy, includes an action plan which outlines how a reduction in fuel poverty, carbon emissions and an increase in energy and water efficiency will be achieved.

How the strategy’s vision will be delivered

  • The council will lead the way in helping our community to make Portsmouth’s homes more energy and water efficient and low carbon.
  • Residents will be empowered to reduce their energy and water bills and increase their household income, ensuring that their home energy costs are affordable.
  • Support will be offered as widely as possible, to maximise the number of people who benefit, while targeting those most at risk from cold homes, to maximise the impact.
  • The council will develop national partnerships to attract investment in energy and water efficiency into the city, supporting the creation of skilled green jobs locally and driving innovation in clean energy generation to ensure the city’s energy and water needs are affordable, sustainable and secure.

Councillor Darren Sanders, the council’s Cabinet Member for Housing said:

“Too many people in our city are forced to choose between heating and eating. That is wrong, which is why it is great that the council is – yet again – tackling the problem.

“This new strategy outlines a new way of helping those at risk from colder homes and suffering from fuel poverty.

It is hoped that this strategy will also act as a catalyst for decarbonising homes in the city; providing support to households who wish to improve their home’s energy efficiency or generate clean energy.”

Six months of Switched On Portsmouth

Almost 7,500 people have visited the Switched On Portsmouth website since its launch. Residents have been seeking further information on energy saving initiatives, applying for energy saving schemes as well as accessing expert advice and tips.

Key energy saving schemes include free energy saving home visits, fully-funded gas central heating and installation and emergency boiler replacement. Each of these initiatives are run in conjunction with partnering organisations; LEAP, Warmer Homes and ECHO.

Over recent months, the effects of COVID-19 were felt most severely by vulnerable households who do not have the money to make pre-payment meter top-ups; leaving many in confusion and without a means to pay their energy bill. Fortunately, Switched On has acted as a source of clear information, even as messages from suppliers and government has changed. The council was also able to secure funding for pre-payment meter top ups to help those unable to afford them, or safely leave their homes.

Since the launch of Switched On Portsmouth six months ago:

  • Over 400 residents have directly benefitted from energy saving schemes including fully-funded gas central heating systems and installation, free fuel top-ups and emergency boiler replacement.
  • 727 tonnes of carbon has been saved. Achieved through the installation of energy saving measures during expert home visits, as well as fully-funded gas central heating installations in Portsmouth homes.
  • £331,000 has been saved by residents in energy bills, thanks to expert advice, home visits and free energy saving measures.
  • There have been over 18,000 page views on the Switched On Portsmouth website with helpful tips, advice and scheme information. With almost half of these visits to pages dedicated to support on COVID.

A £170,000 charitable grant has also been secured in partnership with the Environment Centre from funding provided by the Energy Redress Scheme.

The grant will help to develop a team to reach out to vulnerable and disadvantaged communities to reduce their risk of fuel poverty and support them to stay warm and well in their homes.

It will also enable fuel-poor households to receive an in-depth and extended home-visit service, covering free fuel top ups to a dedicated energy advice phone line.

In October 2019, Portsmouth City Council’s in-house Energy Services team received national recognition at the Energy Efficiency Awards for its work mitigating fuel poverty and the provision of affordable energy for vulnerable residents; as well as being crowned as Council of the Year at the recent regional awards.

To visit Switched On Portsmouth and to see how you could save energy and money in your home, click here.