Warm Homes Day of Action in Northfield

My Background

I am a resident of Northfield Constituency in South West Birmingham. I have been working in the energy efficiency sector for the past 12 years first as a surveyor, then as a project manager and now as a technical advisor. Also, I have been campaigning for Birmingham Friends of the Earth for the same amount of time. Friends of the Earth have been running a campaign about energy efficiency, which due to the recent energy crisis is now front and centre in peoples minds.

The Problem

This country has some of the worst housing stock for insulation in Europe and has been relying heavily on cheap imported gas to fuel our energy needs. The result of this is that we were more vulnerable to external internal events such as the spike in demand for energy after covid lockdowns ended and the war in Ukraine. Having a poorly insulated housing stock is a contributing factor to our dramatically increased energy bills from April 2021. If we have a better insulated housing stock, we would need to less energy to fuel our housing stock and our energy security would be improved. We would also dramatically reduce fuel poverty with the numbers falling into fuel povery skyrocketing over the past two years. Finally, and for me as an environmental campaigner, crucially, we would make our transition away from a fossil fuel based economy much easier. Net Zero relies on us using a lot less energy than we do now, with one one to achieve that being a well insulated housing stock.

The Campaign

Friends of the Earth are campaigning for a more strategic approach to insulating our homes with much more investment in insulation as well as a windfall tax on the oil and gas producers who are recording record profits directly because of the energy crisis.

On Saturday November 18th, at Northfield Arts Forum Birmingham Friends of the Earth hosted a “Warm Homes Day of Action.” where we spoke to members of the general public about our campaign. There was a lot of concern about how much energy bills have gone up in recent times. We found people in agreement that we need to insulate more of our homes and that it was the government’s responsibility to do so. We also brought our quilt with hand drawn pictures of what individuals think their version of a warm home looks like. I added my version of what my idea of what a warm home is. Unsurprisingly, working in the energy efficiency industry meant my picture was heavily focussed on energy measures including insulation, with energy measures such as an Air Source Heat Pump to replace a gas boiler.

My drawing of my idea of a warm house

Generating Political Support

We were joined by local labour party councillors Alex Aitken and Liz Clements. Alex Aitken is also the parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party at the next general election for Northfield Constituency.  They agreed that the government such invest in energy efficiency in a much larger way and that they support Birmingham City Council doing this as Birmingham City Council has declared a Climate Emergency. In my day job I am working as part of E.On to help insulate homes and install energy efficiency measures to those who are potentially susceptible to fuel poverty under ECO 4 and the Great British Insulation schemes. I was able to tell the councillors about what I and E.on are currently working on in other parts of the city and how the scheme has the potential to expand to others areas of the city including Northfield.

Campaign Petition

Birmingham Friends of the Earth had a productive day raising awareness about the Warm Homes Campaign. If you would like to learn more Birmingham Friends of the Earth have a petition to ask Birmingham MPs to support the aims of the campaign.

Government Announcement

In the past week the government has announced more funding for energy efficiency measures including expanding the Boiler Upgrade Scheme that will help more people be able to afford to replace their existing gas boiler with heat pumps. This new funding announcement is welcome and I will be interested to find out the detailed implications for the energy efficiency landscape in our country in the new year.

Warm Homes Quilt

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