Actions to take


  1. Take steps to tackle fuel poverty. See sections 4 and 5 of the fuel poverty message for more information.

  2. Work with energy suppliers or local agencies to target information and measures to low income areas which qualify for ECO funding. ECO (the Energy Company Obligation) is the main energy supplier-funded policy and requires energy suppliers to install energy saving measures or efficient heating measures in households, with each of the large energy supply companies having targets in terms of energy bill cost saving and carbon emissions reductions achieved in the households which have measures installed. It has three strands: the Home Heating Cost Reduction Obligation (HHCRO), the Carbon Saving Communities Obligation (CSCO), and the Carbon Emissions Reduction Obligation (CERO).  The first two of these are aimed at low income households:
  • The HHCRO is about reducing energy costs for low income households, with measures such as replacement boilers.
  • The CSCO is about reducing carbon emissions in the most deprived 25% of Lower Super Output Areas, as identified by the indices of deprivation, which are produced separately with slightly different methodologies for England, Wales and Scotland. A list of these areas is available from DECC.
  1. Raise awareness of the financial support for fuel payments available (as of 2015):
  • Winter Fuel Payments are available for those over 62
  • Cold Weather Payments are made during periods of very cold weather to help people to pay for extra heating costs, and are available to those in receipt of certain benefits
  • Warm Home Discount Scheme  – participating energy companies provide a discount (£140 for winter 2015-16) on the electricity bills of certain customers.
  1. Raise awareness of the grant schemes for improving energy efficiency. Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is an energy efficiency programme for households. Under the Energy Company Obligation (often simply called ECO), some low income households can get grants to cover the whole cost of cavity wall or loft insulation, and significant grants towards other improvements like new boilers. Other people are eligible for grants for cavity wall and loft insulation because they live in a particular location, known as a Carbon Saving Community area. Currently, everybody else can claim a grant towards the cost of cavity wall or loft insulation, or insulating a ‘hard-to-treat’ cavity wall.

  2. Embed goals related to energy efficiency within housing services such as homelessness prevention, affordable housing, housing asset management, and the enforcement of minimum housing standards in the private rented sector (see also part 4.2.3 of the fuel poverty section.
  3. Make private landlords aware of their responsibilities and tenants aware of their rights. Currently private sector landlords in England and Wales must provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property to new tenants, and in the coming years private sector landlords in England and Wales will be legally required to meet energy efficiency standards. See section 4.2.3 of the fuel poverty section for more information.
  4. Enforce private rented sector standards. Local authorities already have a legal duty to take ‘appropriate action’ wherever a property is found to have a ‘Category 1 hazard’ (the most serious hazard, e.g. no fire alarm, inadequate heating) under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
  5. Ensure the energy efficiency of new build.  Use planning processes and regulations to drive up standards to achieve zero carbon in new developments and to improve existing homes through the use of Allowable Solutions.  Many councils including Leicester City Council and Ipswich Borough Council are working with developers to ensure that new developments exceed the minimum standards of energy efficiency1.
  6. Engage the local community in energy efficiency programmes2.
  • Design bespoke outreach programmes to engage the disadvantaged sections of the community you are trying to help and secure their views.  Build this into the overall strategy.
  • Employ local people to engage residents through an active participation process, such as energy efficiency workshops and bespoke community events.
  • Use appropriate language for engaging these audiences: for example, focus on public health as well as climate change.
  1. Support community action on energy. Encourage and support community energy projects that have arisen within the voluntary and community sector. Look for ways to support them, perhaps brokering introductions, endorsing their work, or linking to them on your website. Support affluent groups as well as those from disadvantaged areas, and encourage them to have a focus on social justice in their work.
  • Plan Local is a set of resources available to communities and groups that are planning low carbon living projects. It includes short films and resources to help with setting up a group, dealing with the planning system, including neighbourhood planning, getting funding and consulting the community.
  1. Support community energy generation projects by helping them to access funding:
  • In Scotland, the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) has been established by the Scottish Government to encourage local and community ownership of renewable energy across Scotland.
  • In Wales, the Ynni’r Fro programme uses European Structural Funds to offer community-based social enterprises grant aid, loans and free, independent, hands-on advice and information to help them develop their own community-scale renewable energy schemes across Wales.
  • For rural areas in England, the Rural Community Energy Fund supports rural communities in England to develop renewable energy projects which provide economic and social benefits to the community. It provides grants of up to £20,000 to support public consultation and viability studies, and loans of up to £130,000 to support planning applications and development of business cases to attract further funding.
  • For urban areas in England, the Urban Community Energy Fund supports community groups to develop renewable energy projects. Like the Rural Community Energy Fund, it provides grants of up to £20,000 to support public consultation and viability studies, and loans of up to £130,000 to support planning applications and development of business cases to attract further funding.
  • For renewable electricity developments, the Feed In Tariff is a payment which is made per unit of electricity generated by small-scale renewable energy systems of up to 5 megawatts (MW) total installed capacity.
  • For renewable heat installations, the Renewable Heat Incentive  (RHI) is a grant payment made to support the cost of installations and based on estimated heat output and technology type. The domestic version of the grant, applicable to single domestic dwellings, is paid over seven years while the non-domestic version, applicable to larger installations, is paid over 20 years. 
  • Local authorities may be able to help community energy projects with funding; for example, DECC’s Community Energy Strategy identifies the Zero Carbon Homes Allowable Solutions framework as a potential source of funding for community groups, starting in 20163.
  1. Make use of new technological developments such as smart meters, and support their roll out and use in encouraging energy saving behaviours.  Innovative technology could prove useful in helping people engage with their energy use, either through the information the meters provide or when a visit is made to the property to install a meter, which provides an opportunity to provide advice to the household or assess the energy efficiency of the property.
  2. Develop or support a local collective switching scheme which incorporates information about consumer rights in the energy market and signposts to advice. Collective switching schemes give consumers the confidence to switch if they don't feel confident enough to do it on their own. Collective switching scheme should encourage people to check the whole market as well as the deals offered by the scheme itself, and help people to understand what would be the best deal for them. This could include information about switching with a prepayment meter and different ways of paying for energy. It could also include referrals to sources of energy efficiency advice (such as local energy advice centres) and referrals to ECO schemes, as well as to wider services such as debt advice and benefits eligibility checks. 
  3. Help people to become aware of their rights in the energy market. Citizens Advice runs the Energy Best Deal Programme in England, Wales and Scotland. This is a public awareness campaign which aims to improve consumers’ knowledge of switching, the help available, and energy efficiency and is delivered by members of Citizens Advice's financial capability forums. Local authorities can find out what sessions are being delivered in their area and signpost people to Energy Best Deal events.
  4. Investigate the possibility of district heating for your local area. The Heat Networks Delivery Unit (HNDU) provides guidance and funding for local authorities that are developing heat networks. Currently support is restricted to selected local authorities, but there may be further bidding rounds for other local authorities to apply for HNDU support. Further information can be found in the guidance provided by the HNDU.


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