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Blog Post 13 July 2022

Extending our reach, increasing our impact

Expanded regional support initiatives coupled with carefully focused marketing activity will help hard-pressed households across the UK save energy and money at a critical time.

As the energy crisis deepens, more UK homes risk being pushed into fuel poverty. In response to current pressures and with an eye on a further energy price cap rise due in October, the Scottish Government has increased the Home Energy Scotland budget by 20% to boost capacity.

The extra funds will allow Home Energy Scotland to recruit and train more advisors across its network. Head of Home Energy Scotland Harry Mayers says: “To be able to scale up our numbers at this time is fantastic. Getting a good service to fuel poor homes takes longer. Quite simply, they need more support.”

Moves to build capacity include significant digital infrastructure investment which will allow more people to access services via online tools. A new self-support element is vital if Home Energy Scotland is to help growing numbers make the journey towards low or zero carbon living, and away from fuel poverty.

Harry says: “As the energy crisis bites, there is some good news as help is available here in Scotland. The additional funding will this year allow us to work with an additional 12,000 households across Scotland, generating 40,000 more advice interactions and significant savings, both in terms of money and carbon dioxide.”

Meanwhile our Northern Ireland Sustainable Energy Programme (NISEP) continues to deliver a range of carbon reduction support including renewables. Since 2010, 668,519 energy efficiency improvements have been installed in homes and businesses through NISEP.

With annual funding of around £8m drawn from an electricity bill levy and administered on behalf of the Utility Regulator, NISEP helps consumers across Northern Ireland access lower carbon energy efficiency improvements. 80% of funds are ringfenced for vulnerable households.

Nine air source heat pumps installed last year represent a significant step towards carbon savings in a sector still in its infancy in Northern Ireland. Another successful NISEP scheme provided householders in much older homes with external solid wall insulation, loft insulation, a new heating system, and additional carbon reduction improvements.

For the year ahead, 25 NISEP schemes have been approved based on their carbon saving potential. Programme manager Angela Gracey-Roger says: “There’s always surplus demand for these funds. In our last round we had bids totalling £13m – far more than we have funding available for.”

In Wales, we continue to support households through the Welsh Government Warm Homes Nest scheme. Since 2011, over 52,200 energy efficiency improvements have been installed in homes to help people save money on their bills. Our advice line provides information on saving energy, money management, energy tariffs and benefit entitlement, with 10,156 householders benefitting from this free service in 2021-22.

We also continue to work with Western Power Distribution on their Power Up programme, supporting vulnerable customers in south Wales with energy advice and helping them sign up to the Priority Services Register.

Leveraging our brand to get our message across

As well as reaching more people on behalf of our clients, we use tailored marketing campaigns to inform, support and engage with more UK households and so increase our impact.

The three campaigns we ran last year focused on different aspects of our work. Love Your Home set out to demystify net zero and help people make carbon reductions at home. Find Your Feet was all about cutting carbon on the move by choosing cycling, walking or public transport as an alternative to cars. Our third campaign focused on heating, featuring a downloadable guide with expert tips on switching to greener heat.

To maximise their currency and relevance, campaigns were scheduled across the year with a nod to the shifting seasons. We used social media and digital advertising to steer audiences to our website for free, impartial advice on the campaign theme or topic.

Having set a target of reaching 1.5m people across our three campaigns, we achieved twice that number. We hoped to encourage 500,000 people to take first step actions. In fact, we had 2.4m.

Group director of marketing communications Angela Howarth says: “Although these results reflect light-touch actions, numbers are strong. Our brand is out there. Our message is cutting through.”

As the energy crisis deepens, latest campaigns will talk to people in their own language about how to cut fuel bills today, and how to take measurable steps towards lower carbon living long term. As last year, we plan to package our activity for the media as a way of amplifying our message.

Through our charitable Foundation’s partnership with the Pod, we helped deliver Switch Off Fortnight in participating schools in November, aligned with COP26. By gradually switching off appliances and measuring carbon saved, students explored the relationship between energy, environment and climate.  

Steps to engage with next generation energy savers are in line with government moves to position the environment more formally within the school curriculum. Our audience is never too young. In a novel collaboration with publisher HarperCollins, we created content for ‘readers’ aged just one.

By expanding our audiences and scaling up our campaigns for clients, we can help more households across the UK save energy and money.

Last updated: 13 July 2022