Community Energy Plus News

Wadebridge fights back against rising energy and heating costs

Wadebridge residents are being invited to Wadebridge Town Hall on Saturday 10th September, 2-5 pm for the launch of the Warmer Wadebridge campaign. Households will be offered cheap or even free home insulation, electricity monitors will be available to help keep down energy costs, and there will be exhibitions on other ways of cutting down energy use in homes, and on farms. The Eden Centre will be presenting their Carbon Calculator, free energy saving light bulbs will be on offer, and advice on solar panels will be on hand. Those who have not yet joined WREN will be able to do so, and so be able to shape developments. There will even be homemade cakes and refreshments!

The Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN), the not-for-profit energy cooperative, is putting Wadebridge in the national lead for moving rapidly towards generating 30% of the town’s electricity from renewable sources by 2015, and so help the local economy. But WREN is just as keen to reduce household, farm and commercial energy costs.

WREN technical director, Jerry Clark, said “It is usually fairly easy to cut down the heat loss from a house by good insulation, but in Cornwall we have some of the worst insulated houses. About a quarter of heat can be lost through the roof, and one-third through the walls. A typical three bedroom semi-detached house could save over £150 a year on heating bills simply by having loft insulation of the right thickness. Insulating cavity walls saves a further £115 a year.”

For the Warmer Wadebridge campaign, WREN has partnered with Community Energy Plus the award-winning Cornish charity that delivers local solutions to fuel poverty, energy efficiency and sustainable energy. 7,000 leaflets are on their way to all the households in the PL27 postcode area to invite them to take advantage of the subsidised £99 insulation offer. Households that are in receipt of certain benefits, for example pension credit, can receive their insulation free.

Ian Smith, Managing Director of Community Energy Plus, said: “Rising energy costs combined with a really cold winter made keeping warm a major challenge for many people in Cornwall last year.  WREN has already done some excellent work in the town. We’re looking forward to building on the momentum they’ve generated for sustainable energy projects by working with them on the Warmer Wadebridge campaign to raise awareness of the importance of the financial, environmental and health benefits of living in a home that is properly insulated.”

Another exciting development to be launched on 10th September is help with reducing electricity costs. People can be shocked by their bills, but often don’t know where they can cut down. Cornish homes use more electricity than elsewhere in the UK for reasons that are not clear, and that adds to the problem of fuel poverty. It has been found that when people can see what they are actually using at any particular time, they find it easy to save between 10-15% of their electricity. Wadebridge people are spending about £5 million on electricity. If they managed to save 10% of that, over £1/2 million would be added to the local economy. 

WREN is therefore delighted to have received £10,000 support from Green Cornwall, a part of Cornwall Council, to see how successful an intensive monitoring programme can be in reducing energy costs. Interested households will be able to sign up for the scheme (and a free energy monitor)  at the launch.

Julian German, Cornwall Council cabinet member, said: “We are very pleased to be working with WREN on this exciting project and supporting them in the excellent work they are carrying out. If Cornwall is going to reduce its energy consumption and levels of fuel poverty, it is essential that individuals and community groups show what can be achieved on a local level.”

WREN has strong university support from Cornwall College and the University of Exeter, whose energy specialists and students will help find out how to maximize the impact of smart meters. The benefits of this knowledge can then be spread throughout Cornwall.

Stephen Frankel of WREN said “Cornwall’s future prosperity can be built on going green, but that is not just a matter of generating our own energy. We want to show the economic benefits of energy conservation. The point of WREN is to take back the control of our own energy – how we produce it and how we use it. Current approaches just take money out of Cornwall, and are having other harmful effects. We will see the value of programmes like this in future jobs for our young folk, quite apart from the environmental benefits.”

The WREN programme is described on www.wren.uk.com

Contact Stephen Frankel 01208-816818/07879-816020;

[email protected]