Exeter Community Energy wins awards for saving 5,418 households £1.6m

ECOE Director and Healthy Homes Project Manager Tara Bowers (left) and Sarah Reeves, Community Energy Champion Project Manager (centre) receive ECOE’s Fuel Poverty Action Award. Credit: Community Energy England

ECOE Director and Healthy Homes Project Manager Tara Bowers (left) and Sarah Reeves, Community Energy Champion Project Manager (centre) receive ECOE’s Fuel Poverty Action Award. Credit: Community Energy England

Exeter Community Energy (ECOE) is a double winner at this year’s national Community Energy England awards. ECOE’s Healthy Homes for Wellbeing scheme won the Fuel Poverty Action and Community Engagement and Inclusion Awards, helping people in Exeter, Mid and East Devon, Teignbridge and Torbay.

Healthy Homes for Wellbeing has assisted 5,418 homes in 2022-2023, saving over 10,000 clients an estimated £1.6 million. The scheme advises households on how to reduce their energy bills, cutting their carbon emissions, and fighting climate change in the process. Practically, it sits alongside ECOE’s original solar power generation activities, which also help community buildings save money on electricity bills.

“I’m thrilled to accept these awards on behalf of the amazing team that I work with,” said Healthy Homes for Wellbeing Project Manager and ECOE Director Tara Bowers. “The massive money and energy savings we’ve achieved shows the enormous need in our community, and the equally gigantic possibilities of making UK homes more efficient.”

Healthy Homes for Wellbeing tackles fuel poverty and promotes energy efficiency measures. Further, it extensively engages and collaborates with community, voluntary and public sector organisations. Its fuel and money saving advice service delivers tailored advice. Hence its outreach programme includes advice clinics, workshops, and talks, providing holistic support. Presently that includes home visits, easy fit measures, and financial assistance.

Strong partnerships

Through partnerships and training, Healthy Homes ensures vulnerable residents receive the help they need, making a significant impact in urban and rural Devon. Specifically, it embeds energy efficiency advice in diverse and disadvantaged communities. The scheme focuses on neighbourhoods with low Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings, off-gas properties, high rental rates, and deprivation. Throughout 2022-23, ECOE organised 450 events, clinics and talks and provided one-to-one advice to 1,754 households. The initiative conducted 977 home visits and received 2,000 referrals from partner organisations. Additionally, it trained 20 Community Energy Champions and 521 frontline workers, enhancing the reach and impact of ECOE’s efforts.

Julie Poole​​​​, ​Energy Advice Manager at agilityeco, which funds ECOE through the Local Energy Advice Partnership (LEAP) said the awards ‘are well deserved’. ‘As always we appreciate the high standard of work that ECOE continue to deliver on LEAP,’ Poole adds.

This is the sixth award in three years for the Healthy Homes team. In 2022, they helped Exeter Community Energy (ECOE) win the Community Group/Charity/Non-Profit category in the 2022 Exeter Sustainability Awards. Also, that year ECOE won the Community Energy Initiative category at the UK Green Energy Awards. Healthy Homes won the Southwest Energy Efficiency Award 2020/21 for outstanding vulnerable customer support. Finally, in April 2020, Tara Bowers won a national Heat Hero award. That recognised her achievements going above and beyond in her work to help keep people warm in their homes.