Keynsham Community Energy (KCE) is a community benefit society that is working to give the people of Keynsham ownership and control of local energy generation and use. Thanks to a grant from the BWCE Fund they have helped over 150 people to make their houses more energy efficient by:

  • Attending events, speaking at local clubs and societies and hosting pop up energy efficiency cafes.

  • Handing out leaflets giving advice on energy efficiency.

  • Providing free draught-proofing and other energy efficiency products to local households.

The KCE team explain more about the project and what they achieved.

At the outset of the project the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) ran an online workshop for our volunteers and directors, plus members of local community groups (e.g. Keynsham Community Fridge and Transition Keynsham) on energy efficiency and fuel poverty, including how to spot fuel poverty, and what advice and support we could give (or signpost to).

As COVID-19 stopped us from having face-to-face events we sought (and received) permission from BWCE and Quartet to giving away low-cost draught proofing and energy efficiency products to individuals. These included door snakes, radiator reflectors, door/window/chimney draught proofing, low energy light bulbs and room thermometers.

We gave away around 200 leaflets, including:
• An advice leaflet from CSE about how to draught-proof your home with low cost DIY products (the ones we gave away) and top tips on cutting energy bills.
• A specific leaflet about the KCE project, signposting people to sources of help to pay their energy bills, grants or loans for energy saving measures (e.g. the Bath and North East Somerset Energy at Home service).

When we were able to have events again we provided advice and products free of charge to 137 people at six events between September 2021 and March 2022, including a community lunch club, two pop up energy cafes at a café on Keynsham High Street, a stall at the Keynsham Eco Festival, a talk about energy efficiency and climate change at Cameo, a club for older people living on their own in Keynsham, and a pop up at a Saltford Hall Coffee afternoon.

Over two years the project enabled us to engage 150 people directly through our outreach and thousands more indirectly through our promotional work (e.g. through local press outlets such as Keynsham Voice). The practical energy saving measures have contributed to reducing energy bills and CO2 emissions. For instance, we calculated that a person who took a radiator reflector, energy efficient lightbulb, door and window draughtproofing and a chimney draught excluder will save £74 over a year (based on 2021 energy prices, so savings will be higher this year). Although it is difficult to calculate CO2 savings for DIY energy saving measures, the Centre for Sustainable Energy are currently doing a piece of research looking at how this can be done.

Some examples of how the project helped individuals included:

  • Helping a single parent, foodbank user who was on furlough to fit draught proofing to a window and ill-fitting back door.
  • Helping a retired, recently widowed woman who was living entirely in her kitchen to use other rooms in the house by giving her draught excluders for open chimneys and a door snake to cut draughts from under the internal living room door.
  • Helping a homecare worker to take products into the homes of her elderly and vulnerable clients and show them how they could make their homes warmer.

The project has also had the following benefits for KCE:

  • Enabled us to connect with thousands of people in our community to increase recognition of what we do and build trust in our organisation. This has already reaped rewards in a doubling in the number of newsletter subscribers.
  • Gave us the opportunity to engage the wider community in issues such as energy independence, renewable energy, energy efficiency, climate change, net zero and general sustainable living.
  • Helped us to link with other organisations and businesses in Keynsham. For instance, we have developed a good relationship with high street café Temple Street Canteen, which wants us to carry on running pop up energy cafes, and we also now have a good relationship with other community groups, which means we can use their networks to promote our work, and potentially develop collaborative projects.

“The last two years have been tough. First COVID-19 meant many people lost their jobs or were furloughed, putting strain on households. Then the cost of living started to bite, and energy bills have gone through the roof. There has never been a more urgent need to insulate our homes and lower our energy bills.

Nick Coates, Chair of KCE

“Helping people make their homes more energy efficient is a win-win. It doesn’t only result in lower fuel bills. It also helps the country reduce our carbon footprint, because well-insulated homes require less energy to heat them.”

Peter Capener, Managing Director of BWCE

The majority of the people we reached were retired, many of whom were living in their own homes, which were often in a state of disrepair. Recipients were very concerned about rocketing heating bills. A minority of retired people were living in housing association homes (and reported that they were more energy efficient, but often had electric heating which was expensive). A few people lived in privately rented accommodation. Many of them were faced with living in hard-to heat homes at a time of rising energy bills.

We did want to reach people living in South Keynsham, a ward with high levels of deprivation to signpost them to CSE for additional support including household energy surveys. However, it was very difficult to reach this community, because the operations of Community @67, which serves this community, were hit hard by Covid.

Although the grant has now run out we are determined to carry on the good work. With energy prices set to rise twice this year, there will be many more people facing the terrible choice of heating their homes or eating. We have raised money through a Crowdfunding campaign backed by the Aviva Community Fund and have other ideas for fundraising. We aim to hold regular pop up events in Keynsham (and Saltford), using the same model of giving away DIY energy saving products and advice leaflets.

We are also working with Bath and North East Somerset Council to put community owned solar panels on the roof of the Keynsham Riverside View apartment complex. This project is in the advanced planning stage and will provide renewable electricity to the Keynsham leisure centre at a discounted rate.

We are looking for volunteers to join our dedicated team. If you are interested contact Liz Barling at [email protected]

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