Energy advice for low income homes
How City & Guilds qualifications are helping people to stay warm in winter.
28 September 2012
Fuel poverty, where a household spends over 10% of its income on staying warm, affects seven million UK households; and with rising fuel costs and confusing tariffs, it’s a situation even more people are facing.
Fortunately, fuel poverty charity campaigner, National Energy Action (NEA) is on hand to help. It offers practical advice to help tackle heating and insulation problems and over the past 20 years, more than 20,000 people have gained a City & Guilds qualification to help them provide the very best of service.
Such qualifications have proved crucial to people like Judy Best, NEA’s Project Development Coordinator: ‘Sometimes giving people practical advice and arranging for free insulation can make all the difference,’ she says. ‘I can see the relief on their faces when they know someone is able to do something’.
Best provides advice to 300 vulnerable customers annually in Coventry, both over the phone and in their homes. She has taken three qualifications through City & Guilds starting with the Level 3 Energy Awareness course, which covered the subjects advisers deal with when clients ask for help.
She then took the Level 3 Renewable Energy in the Home course, so she could advise householders on installing renewable energy technology. Next she completed the Level 3 NVQ Provide Energy Efficiency Services.
‘This proves you can pass the message on,’ says Colin Dunn, NEA’s Vocational Qualifications Leader. He stresses that the City & Guilds qualifications, delivered by NEA, are regularly updated and peer reviewed in line with industry developments.
For example, insulation is currently a major issue. Dunn says most UK houses (especially those built before 1990) are of a poor standard: ‘There is a link between poor insulation and physical and mental health. No one wants their children sleeping in cold damp rooms.’
The qualifications have certainly helped those who turn to NEA for help. One of Best’s clients was struggling to pay her gas bills, and using an expensive decorative gas fire as her main heating source. Best advised the radiators should be turned up, and helped her client move away from an expensive pre-payment meter to an online direct debit tariff.
Another client was living in a rented house where the radiator in the living room wasn’t working. As a result, she was using an electric fan heater to keep her young child warm. After coming to the NEA for help, Best arranged for the landlord to repair the radiator, and provided access to a hardship fund towards installing a new cooker.
Best describes her training as terrific, ‘I’ve learnt to pass on knowledge in a way that is clear and understandable.’