ALIenergy is a charity committed to addressing fuel poverty, promoting sustainable energy use, and reducing carbon emissions. The charity operates in Argyll and Bute in Scotland where fuel poverty is as high as 37%. The main reason for such a high fuel poverty rate is that very few homes are connected to the natural gas grid, so most people use electricity or oil, which is much more expensive. To help ALI Energy in fighting fuel poverty in that area the Ebico Trust provided the funding to start ‘Warm Homes for Happy Families’ project. Although The Ebico Trust funding has finished the project managed to build foundations to provide advisory service and secure further funding. Since fuel poverty rate is so high there The Ebico Trust Trustees re-visited the charity to see how their work has developed further.
ALIenergy has a network of approximately 18 employees spread over a wide area working from their homes. This significantly reduces the travelling time and costs for home visits. By now The ‘Warm Homes for Happy Families’ project officers visited over a hundred homes and a further hundred and fitly homes were given in-depth advice and support in other ways. The advisors provide households with the information on advantages of changes that can be made at low or no cost to them, from behaviour changes to correct use of heating systems and household appliances to existing heating system replacements.
A particular feature in Argyll and Bute is that there are many small remote communities, both on the mainland and on the many islands. In the relatively more frequent bad weather, these remote communities experience considerably more power cuts than elsewhere.
The power cuts they experience may mean that a dwelling is left without any form of heating for days. It can also result in Economy 7 and Economy 10 meters getting out of phase, so that the occupants do not know what time of day their electricity will be cheap.
The potential annual cost savings on energy bills arising from the advice provision and other project activities was over £56,000 per year. Households also received more than £130,000 of new benefits as a result of assistance provided through the project (benefits advice, benefits checks and help with applications). Overall, more than 245 households have been helped out of fuel poverty and live in warmer, more comfortable homes that they can afford to heat more easily.
Although, the funding which The Ebico Trust provided has ended, it has helped ALI Energy to build foundations and secure further funding from other sources. This has helped ALI Energy to retain and employ further staff to provide continues support to vulnerable people. There definitely still much more work to be done in this area.