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Record water demand in hot weather

Portsmouth Water is asking everyone to keep water for essential use only for the duration of the current heatwave. The current heatwave we are experiencing has combined with the Covid restrictions and people taking ‘staycations’, to result in a record breaking demand for water this week. This demand is putting strain on the system and … Continued

Portsmouth Water is asking everyone to keep water for essential use only for the duration of the current heatwave.

The current heatwave we are experiencing has combined with the Covid restrictions and people taking ‘staycations’, to result in a record breaking demand for water this week.

This demand is putting strain on the system and threatens to leave some customers with low pressure or even without water as pipes reach capacity and cannot physically allow enough water through them fast enough for everyone’s use. So we are asking everyone to show some restraint and only to use water for essential purposes for the next few days, to ensure there is enough water to go around. We would ask people to put away their hosepipes and garden sprinklers and allow their grass to turn gold and their car to gather dust – for a couple of days, just until the heatwave has passed.

We are continuing to produce water 24/7 and our technicians are working around the clock to ensure houses and businesses have the essential water they need for cooking, cleaning and washing. With your help we can make sure everyone gets the water they need.

Bob Taylor, Portsmouth Water CEO commented

‘We are asking customers to restrict their use of water during the next few days of heatwave, in order to ensure that that all customers receive a reliable water supply. Demand over the weekend was the highest in over 10 years and we are encouraging people use water carefully to essential there is plenty for personal hygiene needs, something that so important to combat the spread of covid-19’.

As can be seen on the graph below demand is well above our average daily demand of 170 million litres a day (Mld). We are hoping with customer support we can get down to below 200 Mld by the end of the week, thereby easing the pressure on supplies.

portsmouth water

Switched On Portsmouth 2019-2020 Impact Report

Switched On Portsmouth is dedicated to improving home energy efficiency in the city and surrounding areas; saving money from people’s bills and reducing carbon emissions from their homes. It was established by Portsmouth City Council last year in order to deliver a number of existing energy and affordable warmth schemes; including homes energy advice, emergency … Continued

Switched On Portsmouth is dedicated to improving home energy efficiency in the city and surrounding areas; saving money from people’s bills and reducing carbon emissions from their homes.

It was established by Portsmouth City Council last year in order to deliver a number of existing energy and affordable warmth schemes; including homes energy advice, emergency boiler replacements, first time central heating and insulation. Switched On Portsmouth was also charged with expanding the reach and scope of the services on offer.

They have now released a report charting the past 12 months to show the extent of the positive impacts that they have had.

The Switched On Portsmouth Impact Report provides details of the 1,500 households helped in Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant from June 2019 through to May 2020, and the extent to which households have been helped. The report shows:

  • 425 of the most vulnerable households benefitting from home visits; 73 broken boiler replacements and 2,591 small energy saving measures fitted
  • £818,844 saved from people’s bills or delivered from benefit maximisation service and securing Warm Homes Discount payments
  • Carbon emissions equivalent to 1,487 tonnes of carbon dioxide reduced from homes
  • More than 18,000 visits to the Switched On website, since its launch in November
  • During the coronavirus crisis, 94 households unable to afford to top-up their prepayment meters, were helped by administering emergency top-ups totalling over £3,000

Despite the encouraging statistics in the impact report, more than 1 in 10 households in Portsmouth still struggle to afford their energy bills; and this ‘fuel poverty’ leads to societal and health impacts, and often the household needing to decide between heating and eating.

It is for this reason that the Switched On Portsmouth team is continuing to expand the scale and scope of their schemes, in order to reach those most in need. In March of this year, the council published its Home Energy and Water Strategy; and since this time, additional funding has been secured from external partners to increase the support available.

The publication of the strategy also heralded the launch of wider support for residents not in the fuel poor category, but that want to make savings on their bills and reduce their carbon emissions.

Councillor Vernon-Jackson, the Leader of the council, welcomed the publication of the report,

“The development of the Switched On service has provided more households in Portsmouth with holistic energy support than ever before; helping them to feel warm and safe at home. The energy saved in each home contributes to an important reduction in carbon emissions in the city; improving air quality and helping Portsmouth City Council towards its target of net zero carbon by 2030.

The impact report highlights the important work of Switched On Portsmouth over the past year; and I know there are plans to improve the support offered even further in the coming months. I am confident that in another year’s time I will be able to report even greater successes as we build on the direction given by the recently published Home Energy and Water Strategy.”

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

To view the published impact report, please click here

To speak to one of the team about the support on offer, please call 023 9284 1947 or visit www.switchedonportsmouth.co.uk

The Green Recovery and Buildings

‘We have a choice: rebuild the old economy, locking in temperature increases of 4°C with extreme climate disruption; or build back better, preserving our planet for generations to come.’ Mark Carney, UN special envoy for climate action Covid-19 and carbon emissions Countries around the world shut their doors at the beginning of the year to … Continued

‘We have a choice: rebuild the old economy, locking in temperature increases of 4°C with extreme climate disruption;

or build back better, preserving our planet for generations to come.’

Mark Carney, UN special envoy for climate action

Covid-19 and carbon emissions

Countries around the world shut their doors at the beginning of the year to limit the spread of Covid-19. As more people stayed at home and business and travel was suspended, carbon emissions were reduced. Globally, this is expected to have caused a record reduction of 5-10%. Unfortunately, the effect of this reduction is only thought to be temporary as carbon emissions must be cut year after year to provide any long-lasting effects, due to how the greenhouse gas is retained within the atmosphere.

We cannot attempt to reduce carbon emissions in order to reach net zero targets by living in a constant lockdown, of course. But in order to reach these vital targets , evidence suggests that there must be a focus on a green recovery. Accelerating climate investments can support a wide economic recovery, whilst protecting the environment, and ensuring the UK hits its carbon reduction targets. The International Energy Agency suggest that focusing on a sustainable recovery would add 1.1% to global economic growth each year, as well as creating 9 million jobs over the next 3 years.

Carbon emissions from buildings

Buildings in the UK made up to 18% of 2019 carbon emissions. This has been identified as a key area of infrastructure to invest in to help the UK meet carbon reduction targets – the UK Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) have found after screening 7,000 studies from around the world, that retrofitting homes to make them more energy efficient is the third quickest way to reduce emissions, after reducing travel and utilising renewable energy. Efforts to reduce emissions in the domestic housing sector will be closely linked with improvements of the safety and resilience of buildings, alongside improving indoor air quality and reducing the impact of fuel poverty.

Policy and funding

The UK government’s already has some future plans to reduce the effect of poor housing on carbon emissions include:

The Green Homes Grant

The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced financial support for homeowners and those living in the private rented sector during his summer budget update on the 8th of July. This funding aims to support the upgrade of 650,000 homes with £5000 vouchers for insulation measures, including vouchers of up to £10,000 for households on a low income. It is expected that this will create 140,000 green jobs as demand in this market will increase. This funding will simulate the economy through the creation of jobs, and will support the carbon reduction targets through reduced energy consumption. Think tank E3G, however, suggest that even if the programme were to continue past the current end date of March 2021, the investment will need to be raised substantially in order to hit fuel poverty targets of abolishing cold homes by 2035.

Minimum standards for new builds

The Future Homes Standard consultation was published this year, and proposed an uplift in minimum building standards for all new build properties. This includes requiring a 30% decrease in carbon emissions through installing clean heating systems and zero carbon energy generation such as solar panels. It does allow for weaker fabric standards, however, meaning there is less of a requirement to ensure the property is fully insulated and airtight. It also suggests that local authorities will no longer have the ability to demand minimum standards above that in the building regulations for local projects. Whilst this ensures a set standard across the UK, it will affect local carbon reduction targets. For example, Portsmouth City Council declared a climate emergency in March 2019, with a target of being net zero by 2030. The UK as a whole has a target of hitting net zero by 2050, and so might not require as strict minimum standards.

Minimum standards for privately rented properties

The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards  require that all privately rented domestic properties reach minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings in order to reduce fuel costs for the tenants, and carbon emissions. A new target has been proposed to ensure all properties reach EPC band C by 2030, however, there is little guidance on how this standard should be enforced.

The Renewable Heat Incentive

The Government recently announced plans to replace the current Renewable Heating Incentive, which offered a tariff-based payment system for households which invested in green heating systems. This will be replaced with a small extension of £100m of funding to be spread over 2022-2024. This will provide £4,000 for households to install heat pumps as their main heating system, replacing gas boilers. Installing a heat pump can reduce carbon emissions bty up to 70% per household when used efficiently, though it does threaten higher running costs if being run on grid-bought electricity. This funding is only forecast to support the installation of 12,500 heat pumps a year, which is well below what is required in order to phase out all oil boilers this decade, and gas boilers after that.

The Climate Change Committee:

The Climate Change Committee release annual reports to parliament. In their most recent report, they provided clear suggestions on the type of plans and policies that should be brought in for the buildings sector, in order to reach the minimum carbon reduction targets.

  • Oil boilers should be phased out by the end of this decade, and gas boilers should be phased out by 2035. In order to meet this, more funding is required to support low carbon heating technologies.
  • Funding packages need to be offered to homeowners and to local authorities in order to meet retrofit energy efficiency targets of getting all houses to an EPC rating of C by 2035.
  • More jobs need to be created and supported in the low carbon heating sector, with more regulation and monitoring to ensure high standards of installations to avoid future issues.
  • Local authorities need to be give more room to drive early progress in their local areas.
  • New build properties and retrofit measures need to reduce their embedded carbon emissions through switching to more sustainable materials.
  • A focus on adapting households to reduce the possibility of overheating is required as a key climate change adaptation measure.

 

 

By Anttonia Lindup
Anttonia
The Warm Home Discount

What is the Warm Home Discount? The Warm Home Discount is a central government scheme funded by energy suppliers. Larger energy suppliers are obligated under Ofgem regulations to deliver support to fuel poor consumers. The most recognisable element of the scheme is the £140 fuel rebate to fuel poor households during the winter. ‘Larger suppliers’ … Continued

What is the Warm Home Discount?

The Warm Home Discount is a central government scheme funded by energy suppliers. Larger energy suppliers are obligated under Ofgem regulations to deliver support to fuel poor consumers. The most recognisable element of the scheme is the £140 fuel rebate to fuel poor households during the winter. ‘Larger suppliers’ include those with at least 200,000 customers. Smaller suppliers can voluntarily offer funding to support the scheme.

There are Core and Broader group rebates for fuel poor households based on different eligibility criteria. The Core Group receive their rebates automatically as they are identified as fuel poor or at risk of living in fuel poverty via the Department of Work and Pensions’ credit database. The Broader Group must apply to receive their rebate via their individual energy suppliers. Not all suppliers have to offer the rebate, and some only have applications open for a very short period of time. It is also possible for the funding amount to run out, so applications should be made as soon as possible. You can read more about the two groups and how to apply here.

The third strand of the Warm Home Discount Scheme is the Industry Initiatives section. This element supports programmes and partnerships to assist those in or at risk of fuel poverty as part of suppliers’ broader group obligations. These programmes largely include supporting energy advice services, but they also fund the installation of some energy saving measures. This element is capped at £40 million of funding, which is spread across the large suppliers. Suppliers do not have to provide funding for this strand, and can instead meet their non-core obligation targets through the rebate strand only.

 

 

Warm Home Discount Industry Initiatives

This Industry Initiatives funding is largely used to fund energy efficiency advice. This includes referring consumers to the rebate strand of the Warm Home Discount, income maximisation schemes, tariff switching sites, as well as providing energy efficiency measures. This funding is largely what supports the Council’s free home energy advice service, from which nearly 500 Portsmouth households received assistance from May 2019 – May 2020. Industry Initiatives also funds the boiler replacement scheme which the council offers during the colder winter months as an emergency measure for owner occupiers. Over 80 vulnerable households were able to access this scheme in the winter of 2019/20, ensuring they can keep their homes and their families warm and healthy. It is also used to support the Council’s free first time gas central heating scheme, which is available to 1,500 households to provide more affordable heating methods.

 

Ending in 2021?

The Warm Home Discount obligation is set to close at the end of March 2021. It is not known what, if anything, will replace this hugely important scheme after this date.

The Warm Home Discount Scheme offers a lifeline for those struggling to pay their fuel bills. During winter it supports households to stay out of debt, and with providing the necessary equipment to ensure their homes stay warm. In 2018/19 the rebate strand of the scheme provided support to more than 2.2 million households, totalling £310 million of funding.

Without an extension to this scheme, millions of people will miss out on energy rebates and wider support to help them stay healthy in their home. This could be hugely detrimental to individuals, and also to the central government’s fuel poverty reduction targets, which the UK is already set to fail. It was recently reported by the BBC that two thirds of UK homes fail to meet long term-energy efficiency targets, meaning the majority of homes are having to spend more on their energy bills.

National Energy Action (NEA) have launched a campaign in partnership with Fair By Design to lobby for an extension to the scheme. They would like to see a 1 year minimum extension, and obligations for smaller suppliers to also provide the Warm Home Discount rebate. They would like to see better promotion of the scheme, as many eligible households are unaware of its existence, and more funding to ensure every fuel poor household that applies to the scheme is offered assistance.

 

 

The national Fuel Poverty Strategy went out to consultation in September of 2019 – we are yet to hear the outcomes of this consultation and to receive a finalised strategy. Without clear direction, it is impossible to identify how fuel poor households will continue to be supported in future. With fuel prices set to rise, it is more important than ever to invest in improving energy inefficient households and supporting vulnerable families to stay warm and healthy.

 

You can support NEA with their campaign to protect and extend the Warm Home Discount through social media – tweet your support using the hashtag #WarmHomeDiscount to your local MP, @Ofgem and @beisgovuk.

 

By Anttonia Lindup

Anttonia

10 Pandemic Energy Saving Tips for Small Businesses

Construction sites, non-essential shops, restaurants, cafes, hairdressers, barbers, dental practices and offices will open at different rates all over UK depending on the risk of coronavirus spread. For the latest updates please visits the Government’s coronavirus business support pages here. The pandemic has put a strain on all aspects of life, including financial. Luckily there … Continued

Construction sites, non-essential shops, restaurants, cafes, hairdressers, barbers, dental practices and offices will open at different rates all over UK depending on the risk of coronavirus spread. For the latest updates please visits the Government’s coronavirus business support pages here.

The pandemic has put a strain on all aspects of life, including financial. Luckily there are some simple steps below we can take to avoid overpaying on energy bills. These are steps for all small businesses; whether your businesses has been open for weeks, or it opened very recently or it is still not open:

1) Take a meter reading!

Most homes & businesses are billed on estimated usage and if you have not been occupying your business premises then it is likely your actual usage will be much lower than the estimated reading.

2) Unplug unnecessary electrical devices

For example if you have an office fridge for lunches and milk you could unplug this if you do not expect to use it in the near future.

3) Adjust to your new capacity

Bars, Restaurants & Cafes: if you are not running at normal capacity and you would normally run several fridges and have a reduced stock you could consider reducing the number of running fridges.

4) Lighting & timers

Check there are no unnecessary lights left on; this is bad for your energy bills and the planet. If are leaving lights on for security purposes make sure you have put them on timers. Many businesses also leave signs saying ‘No cash/merchandise not left on premises’ which may be a good idea if appropriate for your business.

5) Heating controls

Adjust heating controls: when lockdown hit in March, many of us may not have adjusted thermostat lighting timers by then. Now that we are well into the summer months make sure your heating controls reflect the summer climate. If your business opening hours are changing to reflect the pandemic, make sure your timers are adjusted too.

6) Keeping cool in the heat

If you struggle to keep items in your business/shop cool in the summer months and have to use air con and fans to achieve this consider:

7) Consider a canopy

Keeping your door shut typically keeps your shop/business cool from the warmer air outside in summer. Many business will be unable to do this now in order to minimise public contact and spread of the virus. You could consider a canopy to shade the front of your shop and keep it cool this summer.

8) Do a price comparison and consider switching

You could be overpaying and missing out on a cheaper tariff. Click here for advice on switching suppliers as a small business.

9) Energy bill struggles?

If your small business is struggling or may struggle to pay its energy bills click here for advice.

10) Final tip: be scam aware.

If you receive an energy bill that looks suspicious check it is legitimate with your supplier. There are useful tips to avoid energy scams here.

 

By Louise Hyde
Louise

Record Solar Energy Production During Covid-19 Lockdown

It may have meant lockdown for many of its buildings, but that hasn’t slowed down Portsmouth City Council’s growing fleet of solar panel installations. As the UK broke sunshine records between March and May, the council’s 400 solar systems outshone their previous best to generate enough clean electricity to power 350 homes for a year! … Continued

It may have meant lockdown for many of its buildings, but that hasn’t slowed down Portsmouth City Council’s growing fleet of solar panel installations. As the UK broke sunshine records between March and May, the council’s 400 solar systems outshone their previous best to generate enough clean electricity to power 350 homes for a year! The panels, installed on schools, offices, community centres and housing sites, thrived in the long periods without rain and cloud; generating 14% more power per panel than the same months last year.

Solar power is free and clean, allowing the sites on which it is installed to reduce their energy bills and carbon emissions. In fact, the carbon saved from the 1.3 gigawatt hours of power, is equivalent to nearly 5,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. It is for these reasons that the council aims to pursue the installation of more solar in the future; promoting its deployment and committing millions of pounds to further developments using the technology. As lockdown restrictions ease, the council plans to emerge with a renewed drive to install solar and storage technology across a range of the council-owned sites and has plans for its first solar farm.

600 solar panels were installed at Harry Sotnick House, Fratton, last year.

Commenting upon the record, Councillor Darren Sanders, Cabinet Member for Housing said, “This record is a real statement as to the success of our ongoing solar campaign; which helps to reduce the council’s energy overheads whilst tackling climate change and providing much needed employment in the low-carbon sector. Our commitment to this technology remains strong, with a new multi-million pound procurement framework close to being established to help to deliver solar and storage in the coming years.”

It has been a period of records on a natural scale, as well as for Portsmouth. As the Met Office confirmed the sunniest period between March and May since records began in 1929, with over 600 hours of sunshine, the UK’s solar systems produced more than ever. This has helped to generate huge amounts of clean power, meaning that coal-fired power stations haven’t turned on for more than 50 days; the first time that this has happened for 140 years. Meanwhile, the lockdown has led to much lower consumption of power nationally, as workplaces and industry have been shut down.

Councillor Dave Ashmore, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change made reference to this wider context, “It’s important that everyone does their bit to tackle climate change and Portsmouth City Council is no exception. We recognise that there is more to do, which is why this council has declared a climate emergency and helped set up the Climate Action Board to action further change. Whilst it is undoubtedly good news to see such a huge amount of solar generated; we shouldn’t lose sight that the phenomena driving this, such as record low rainfall and high temperature, may themselves be down to human-made climate change. We should prioritise a green recovery as we come out of the COVID crisis to ensure our planet is fit for future generations.

The updated fuel poverty statistics explained

The Government department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has released the most recent fuel poverty statistics from 2018. We can see a number of trends within this data that we can use to provide targeted support to households in fuel poverty. A household is classed as being in fuel poverty if they are … Continued

The Government department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has released the most recent fuel poverty statistics from 2018. We can see a number of trends within this data that we can use to provide targeted support to households in fuel poverty.

A household is classed as being in fuel poverty if they are Low Income, High Cost:

  • Their fuel costs are above average
    and
  • Their disposable income (after housing and fuel costs) is below the poverty line

There are three main factors which contribute to a house being fuel poor:

  • Energy inefficient homes
  • High energy costs
  • Low incomes

In 2018, approximately 1 in 10 households were fuel poor (10.3%). This is a decrease from 2017 by 0.7%. These figures are based on the Low Income, High Cost indicator, which is set to be changed by BEIS as outlined in their Fuel Poverty Strategy consultation. This indicator has shown to not accurately capture the reality of fuel poverty, as it allows households to move in and out of the fuel poverty classification dependant on temporary circumstances. It is likely that the 10.3% is not truly reflective of fuel poverty in England, and the true amount of households in fuel poverty is likely to be much higher. It does provide a useful base value to help with reaching fuel poor households, however.

 

Energy efficiency

The majority of fuel poor households live in a band D property. This is an Energy Performance Certification (EPC) based on assumed energy usage of a property.  A band D is the average for English households, and under the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) legislation is set to be a minimum standard required for private rental properties by 2025.

Those who live in the least efficient properties (band E, F and G) are subject to fuel bills 3 times higher than those in the most efficient properties (A , B and C). Households in band G are almost 3 times more likely to be fuel poor.

 

Pre-payment price cap

Historically, households on a pre-payment meter for their gas or electricity have been subject to the highest fuel bills. Due to the prepayment price caps enforced by regulatory body Ofgem, households on prepayment meters are no longer the most likely to be fuel poor. It is now those on standard credit meters who are more likely to be fuel poor – this can be tackled by switching to a fixed tariff with guaranteed prices for an agreed contract length (usually 12 months).

 

Household composition

Single parent households are most likely to be fuel poor, with 19% of those in fuel poverty being single parent households. Fuel poverty can affect children’s physical health – children living in bad housing conditions are likely to have mental health problems including anxiety and depression, and are subject to poor physical health as they are more likely to contract meningitis, have respiratory problems and experience slow physical growth and delayed cognitive development.

Tenure type

Households living in privately rented homes are the most likely to be fuel poor, and those in social housing are the least likely to be fuel poor. The majority of fuel poor households are owner occupied (51.3%).

 

Fuel Poverty in Portsmouth

The South East collectively has the lowest proportion of households in fuel poverty at 7.9%, and Hampshire only 6.8%. Portsmouth, however, has a rate higher than the national average of 10.8%.

Switched On Portsmouth has a wide range of support available to support fuel poor households in Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant. Portsmouth City Council recently launched its “Energy and Water at Home Strategy” which has a strong focus on supporting fuel poor households, and to reduce this rate of fuel poverty.

 

By Anttonia Lindup

Anttonia

Want to find out more?

If you have any questions about what you might be eligible for or if you just want to find out more about how we can help, just send us an email or give us a call