EST has operated in Northern Ireland for the past 15 years and is best known for the provision of free and impartial energy saving advice to householders, communities and energy-related business. Patrick Thompson explains the way ahead.
Briefly outline EST’s current work in Northern Ireland:
We provide free and impartial energy saving advice to around 50,000 householders in Northern Ireland each year. In the face of rising fuel prices and last year’s cold winter, the provision of advice and information on the smaller ‘behaviour changes’ is as essential as insulation and helps cut heating and electricity costs. This empowers people to affect change themselves with regards to making their homes warmer and more energy efficient. Early figures from last year would suggest that our advice helped householders in Northern Ireland save over £3 million in fuel and electricity costs.
We continue to act as programme administrator for the Utility Regulator’s Northern Ireland Sustainable Energy Programme, which is a £7 million levy fund, comprising many energy saving schemes.
Clients, such as utility companies, benefit from the provision of data, insight and statistical verification work via our knowledge team.
What innovations lie ahead in energy advice?
Ongoing work to reduce domestic energy consumption through the more traditional channels is still necessary, and are now helping energy related organisations to provide their own bespoke advice to their customers directly, via our Endorsed Advice Service, which has UKAS accreditation. This will support and assist companies to provide the right information best suited to their customers’ needs.
But I suppose the next ‘big thing’ we are looking at involves water efficiency. This hasn’t been fully explored in Northern Ireland and, in particular, the associated savings through efficient hot water use. Approximately a quarter of domestic CO2 emissions and a third of gas bills are attributable to heating water. This would result in a double win; by reducing water consumption at the user end and realising additional energy savings via a reduction in the overall energy consumption of providing clean water and waste-water disposal. The Energy Saving Trust has developed online consumer tools and a commercial water modelling tool to simulate the impacts of retrofitting water saving devices. We are also looking at the provision of behaviour change advice to complement any retrofit activity.
How will charitable status change the organisation?
Charitable status will allow us to be more innovative. We will be able to take the initiative, and respond effectively to the carbon-saving opportunities that may arise through new business, like the Great Britain Green Deal. Our not-for-profit company will continue to deliver substantial government-funded programmes while the wholly owned trading subsidiary will provide an innovative range of services, which businesses and organisations can buy to benefit their customers. Surplus monies earned via the trading subsidiary will be channelled back to the charitable foundation.
We will remain independent and committed to the provision of impartial advice to householders, whilst continuing to be the public face of energy saving, but now we are able to utilise our know-how to help grow the green economy, assist people out of fuel poverty and remain at the forefront of energy saving in the UK and beyond.
If you would like more information on any of our services, please contact Patrick Thompson, Operations Manager at the Energy Saving Trust email@example.com or call 028 9072 6006