INDEPENDENT charity Devon Communities Together is providing support and advice for hundreds of people across Devon as part of the Energy Outreach Project in collaboration with Citizens Advice.

To the end of March 2024, Energy Champions Martin Rich and Anderson Jones are visiting community spaces and households throughout the county where they are seeing people struggling with the soaring cost of living.

Their advice on saving energy, managing fuel debt, accessing financial support, addressing condensation and dampness, greener energy alternatives and more could help people save money and be more energy efficient.

So far, Martin and Anderson have visited seven communities to deliver workshops, including Totnes, Exeter, Ottery St Mary, Seaton, Exmouth, Sheepwash and Bradninch.

In response to Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, a campaign from National Energy Action UK to raise awareness of the issues, Devon Communities Together wants to highlight the definitions of fuel poverty and how people are affected by it.

Fuel poverty or being fuel poor is where a household is living in a property with a Fuel Poverty Energy Efficiency Rating (FPEER) of band D or below in a home that cannot be kept warm at reasonable cost without bringing their residual income below the poverty threshold.

Housing in rural, coastal and market town communities can be older, poorly insulated, harder to heat and sometimes “off-grid”, where oil is used in place of gas; low incomes are an important factor.

In 2022 13.3 per cent of rural households were fuel poor.

Proportionally more households are in fuel poverty in the three Local Authorities making up northern and western Devon than in other Local Authorities in South West England.

Devon Communities Together’s Martin Rich explains: “Whilst there is a definition of fuel poverty, many people are struggling with energy costs long before they reach the official benchmark.

“Through the Energy Outreach Programme, we are providing information about what help is available, and how people can help themselves and each other.

“We are seeing a much wider mix of people at our events but, regrettably, those most in need do not always seek help.

“We ask people to be community ambassadors and use our briefing to help others in their communities.

“The soaring cost of living is reaching deep into our communities, with many more people having to look hard at their domestic budgets.

“Despite Government interventions, the impact of higher energy and other living costs is putting people’s health and wellbeing at risk; people are worried.

“Coming together at one of our presentations encourages people to share ideas and work together to help each other.

“Our home visits and telephone helpline are there to support those who have concerns and cannot access a local presentation.”

To book a community energy saving presentation, for example in a Village Hall or Community Centre, or for confidential one-to-one advice including home visits, please contact Martin Rich at: [email protected] , telephone: 07984 001542 or Anderson Jones at: [email protected] , telephone: 07539 334206.

All events and advice are completely free.

Further information may be found here, including any upcoming community events: .

Read more about the work of Devon Communities Together on the website: .