Be it local businesses' operating costs, critical community support functions staying open through winter, or residents not having to make a choice between eating and heating, getting control of our soaring energy costs is critical to the future of our communities.
Zero Carbon Guildford's Energy Circle can help you reduce the amount of energy you waste, understand your energy use and cut your bills. Not only can ZERO's Green Your Home zone provide independent guidance - from managing energy use to generating clean heat & electricity - but our Leaky Homes project currently offers home visits to help assess your home's energy efficiency.
What Do You Need Help With?
What Does This Project Achieve?
Why Is This So Important?
The UK has an amazing opportunity to be a leader in tackling multiple crises that stem from a relationship with energy generation and conservation that has put disproportionate power into the hands of unaccountable corporations, whilst leaving the average person struggling to pay bills. Unfortunately, we are not currently grabbing this opportunity, to the detriment of all but the wealthiest of British citizens.
By working collaboratively as residents, community groups, and councils we have an opportunity to significantly cut energy use and bills by building energy independence by implementing existing technologies in strategic ways. A good example of this is Surrey County Council working with Community Energy South, who in turn helped ZCG with a successful application to get funding which has provided free home energy surveys to Surrey residents. We have all the tools necessary to create clean energy locally, and build energy independence for our communities, we just need to work in smart and collaborative ways to deliver projects which benefit our residents - and create models replicable by other communities.
Residential energy is the 2nd highest emissions source in Surrey. To be able to deliver a healthier and cleaner county there needs to be a huge amount of collaboration between communities and councils, the former in terms of behaviour change and the latter through funding of infrastructure.
Download our Green Your Home Toolkits!
You could look at building your home's energy efficiency a bit like building any other part of the house - if you don't build from strong foundations the entire process can be a bit pointless, or at worst destroy your efforts entirely.
The foundations for energy efficiency are understanding your energy use, and the changes you can make to conserve energy, and then taking a 'fabric first' approach to ensure that your home is as efficient as possible, to maximise the benefits of every future step you take.
Below are the building blocks of your journey to a more energy efficient and low carbon home. Click on each numbered block, in order, to make sure you're doing everything possible to maximise the success of the steps you take to cut energy use.
This hole inside an airing cupboard had been wallpapered over and was wasting the homeowners money - until we found it with our thermal imaging camera during a Leaky Homes survey
Where does your home lose heat?
Learn about low energy heating
Energy & Retrofit FAQ
We get asked a lot of questions about energy and retrofitting in ZERO, our Guildford town centre hub. Here are some of the most common (don't take this as an excuse not to come see the lovely folk in ZERO though!)
Not many energy related questions can just be answered yes or no, hence why residents often get confused and overwhelmed.
Where can I find trusted assessors / installers?
You should always look for PAS and Trustmark certifications. Retrofit Assessors should be PAS2035 certified, whilst installers should be PAS2030. Action Surrey are SCC's delivery agent, so can only use installers & assessors with these certifications. You can either go through Action Surrey, or find a Which? Trading Standards assessed trader.
Where can I get support for my energy bills?
If you can't pay your energy bills you may be eligible for a 60 day freeze on your bills, or a Debt Relief grant through your energy supplier (or British Gas also give grants to other company's customers). The Surrey Energy Advice tool is a 1-stop shop which gives tailored advice to any Surrey resident from debt relief, to non-financial support, to funding for retrofit measures. It gets updated whenever new schemes are available.
Where can I get independent retrofit advice?
The key part of this answer is that you want a qualified Retrofit Assessor to do a whole-house assessment. If you don't, you may end up with higher energy bills, or cause damp issues by sealing off ventilation. If you're eligible for a Govt funding scheme a whole-house assessment will be part of the package you receive. Action Surrey deliver these schemes locally, so speak to them to check eligiblity. if you're not eligible, they can give you the details of trusted PAS2035 certified assessors.
Is a transition to clean energy too expensive?
Have you ever been paying more for your energy bills than you are right now? Unaccountable corporations are raking in literal billions in profits, whilst we're paying through the nose. Renewables are now the cheapest source of energy in a huge number of countries, and are getting more & more efficient all the time. But the biggest selling point is that renewables offer energy independence for any community, taking the power from the companies polluting our atmosphere and decentralising it into the hands of you and your neighbours.
Should I install a heat pump?
That depends! Heat pumps can be great, but you must make sure that a) your house is properly insulated, or you bills could go up! b) that your radiators are correctly sized. You should get a wholehouse Retrofit Assessment done first. Definitely don't just call out a heat pump seller or installer, as they may be trying to sell rather than give you the correct advice.
Will cavity wall insulation cause damp problems?
Not if it's assessed and installed properly! 'Bridging'[ occurs when moisture penetrates the out wall, crosses the insulation material, and transfers the damp to your internal wall. You can avoid this by making sure a trusted and experienced company gives you honest advice (see Action Surrey, or Which?, above). In most cases you should be fine, but cavity wall insulation could cause damp issues if:
your wall is exposed to wind-driven rain
your brickwork or render is quite cracked
Your property is very exposed
What's the number 1 thing I should do to my house?
That depends on a number of factors, and whilst it'd be great if there was a silver bullet, there's not. We'd always suggest that a case by case approach is best. Understand your energy use, work to reduce it through changing your own habits, and then look at how to improve the insulation in your property. Loft hatches, letterboxes, chimneys, even gaps round doors can add up to have a significant impact on your bills. Think about a home energy survey, and then take the easy wins and plan the longer term more expensive actions accordingly.
Is there funding available for retrofit in Surrey?
Yes! The current scheme is LAD3, or 'Sustainable Warmth'. This will probably run until late Spring, and may then be replaced by ECO4. There are usually financial eligibility requirements, but the easiest way for any Surrey resident to get tailored advice is through the Surrey Energy Advice tool, which is maintained with all current schemes, and will feature group purchasing options when available, if you don't qualify for the LAD/ECO schemes.
Should I use a thermal imaging camera on my house ?
Thermal imaging cameras are really useful - IF you know what you're looking at! It can be difficult to interpret the images (we know, we've been there), so if you're going to use a thermal imaging camera you should do a bit of research first. We have one you can borrow in our Library of Things, and recommend Octopus' handy guide to interpreting the images. OR you can request a home energy survey from one of our Energy Champions, who have been trained and had practice at interpreting the images.
Are renewables unreliable?
Nope. You might not be able to generate 100% of your home's electricity requirements throughout the year with PV panels and no battery, but it's a myth that intermittency is a problem. Countries are now reaching nearly 100% grid power through renewables alone - it just requires investment, and guess who doesn't want that? It's those pesky energy companies again. We have all the technology and capacity we need to make clean, reliable electricity, we just need communities to come together and deliver it if our governments are too beholden to fossil fuel interests to act.
What is community energy?
Community Energy is when a group of residents come together to explore energy generation or reduction strategies. This could be through group purchasing schemes, where neighbours all chip in for bulk buys or insulation or solar panels, or it could be internal investors paying for a scheme through a local Community Benefit Society, and the residents then pay a fixed energy price for 20+ years, whilst the investors get a small return on their investment. If you like the sound of this, scope out your neighbours' interest, and then email firstname.lastname@example.org