Eyes down for a warm house

  • How you could be saving money on your fuel bills
  • Liverpool plays Energy Efficiency Bingo
  • Winter health advice

Dark nights. Cold days. Harsh winds. Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like winter. But how can you keep winter at arm’s length, and steer clear of energy bills that give you the chills?

 

One option is to huddle up and come together. “Events like these are a brilliant way to enable us to talk to our customers without selling anything, and to access people we just wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise,” says British Gas’ Hayley Grocock. “We don’t have shops, so often the only conversation we have is on the phone, when people have a problem.”

 

This event feels different. The grand hall is choc-a-block with stalls offering warming cups of coffee, invaluable winter health advice, winter-friendly nutrition tips and, of course, energy suppliers keen to do what they can to ease their customers’ seasonal burden. It’s like a one-stop winter survival course, under one (warm and dry) roof. Hundreds of people bustle in from the rain – a choir lilts away in the background, some brave souls attempt some tai chi moves. There’s no doubt – this is one mighty popular gathering.

Joan from Toxteth playing bingo

Teaming up with fuel awareness charity, National Energy Action (NEA), British Gas developed the Community Action Partnership – focused on tackling fuel poverty within our most vulnerable communities.

 

“It’s about engaging consumers in energy efficiency, and helping them to save money while keeping warm,” Hayley says.

 

But when it comes to getting the advice to those who need it, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Mention ‘energy efficiency’ and, chances are, it’s not the heating, it’s the audience you switch off.

 

“Every locality is different. What do you do, how do you deliver it – that really depends on who you’re engaging with,” she says. And in Liverpool? It’s all about the bingo.

 

“With the best will in the world, you can’t make people take leaflets, let alone read them,” says NEA co-ordinator Jimmy Pugh. “So we had to find a way to sneak our message in through the back door,” he says of his ingeniously simple solution.

 

Energy Efficiency Bingo sees participants dab out their bingo card and, with each ball called, get a pocket-sized energy efficiency tip thrown in.

 

“We’re getting people relaxed, then we can start the conversation,” Jimmy says. “But, more importantly, it sparks a conversation between themselves. People start to share tips, and by the end of the session, they’re the ones asking us for leaflets, rather than us trying to foist them on them.”

 

And it’s working.

 

“I was in a community centre in North Liverpool, and a lady who’d won the bingo in another part of the city the previous day came in. I joked ‘you can’t play, you’ve already won!’. ‘No,’ she said, ‘I called that number you gave me, and I found out I qualify for a new heating system!’ She was over the moon.”

 

Tellingly, the lady in question attended a community centre where Jimmy had already given talks and slideshows, and the message just hadn’t hit home. All it took was one fun afternoon’s gaming session and – bingo! 

Woman winning at bingo

Some top tips from the bingo

Upgrading a G-rated boiler to an A-rated one with a full set of heating controls could save a semi-detached house up to £340 per year. Worth thinking about if your boiler is over 15 years old.

 

A running tap wastes six litres of water a minute. Always turn it off when washing dishes, and use a bowl – it could save you up to £30 a year.

 

Switch to LED light bulbs and you could save up to £35 a year. 

 

Savings sources: www.waterwise.org.uk/ and www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/domestic/

 

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