COVID-19 has brought so much uncertainty, and a recent survey found that almost half of people who have been working from home during the pandemic are concerned that keeping their families warm will lead to unaffordable heating and energy bills. As we all continue to deal with so many unknown factors, Home Energy Scotland is striving to ease the concerns that come with trying to keep our households and families warm, especially during the winter months.
Our Scottish Government-funded advice service works to ensure the people of Scotland can make their homes more energy efficient and reduce bills. All information offered to households is impartial, with help worth up to £5,000 available through our Warmer Homes Scotland initiative.
As well as financial support, our advisors help customers identify practical savings they can make at home, either by changing the way they use energy or carrying out energy-saving home improvements.
With more people staying and working from home during the pandemic, nearly three quarters (72%) of people have increased their energy usage. So, we have some easy wins that people can take to help keep their homes warm. Firstly, people should think about improving their home insulation – from floor to loft, there are plenty of cost-effective ways to insulate your home and keep it feeling warm. Secondly, draught proofing is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to keep cosy. And thirdly, understand your heating controls – the right heating controls will let you keep your home at a comfortable temperature without wasting fuel or heat.
During lockdown, we have witnessed a rapid rise in the number of people calling Home Energy Scotland’s free advice service. In the busiest weeks of 2020, calls had increased by more than 200 per cent over the same dates as the previous year. As the cold snap continues across the country, we anticipate and hope that people continue to get in touch to see how we can help their homes become more energy efficient, while remaining warm.
Strict safety protocols are in place for the installation of essential home heating measures under this programme. Interest-free loans, with cashback of up to 75 per cent, are available for a variety of measures such as solid wall insulation, double glazing or a new renewable heating system. Loan offers are valid for a year so householders in mainland Scotland can prepare now for installations when lockdown is lifted.
We have heard firsthand from people who have taken advantage of interest free-loans and the life-changing impact that making their homes more energy efficient has had. Taking advantage of the practical advice and incentives offered by Home Energy Scotland will not only see benefits in the short term, during lockdown, but will lead to further savings in the years to come.
Home Energy Scotland from the Scottish Government provides clear and impartial advice on reducing bills and saving energy. For further information call 0808 808 2282 or visit www.homeenergyscotland.org
Harry Mayers is the Head of Home Energy Scotland