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Community Energy Plus (CEP) / Energy efficiency for communities

Area of work:

Cornwall is a favourite UK holiday and retirement destination, but it has large areas of deprivation.

Community Energy Plus (CEP) set up the Home Health programme to provide free energy efficiency measures and advice to communities in deprived areas of Cornwall.

By 2005, 5,000 homes had been surveyed and 3,000 also had major energy efficiency measures installed.

For measures installed between 2002 and 2005, greenhouse gas savings were estimated at 324 tonnes a year of CO2.

Over 1,000 households have also been referred to other services, such as Help the Aged, for advice and assistance.

"This has been absolutely fantastic for us! It's made such a difference, especially to out duaghter who has a serious medical condition."

Householder in Penzance, supported by Home Health.


Cornwall is a favourite UK holiday and retirement destination, but it also has large areas of deprivation, both urban and rural. Many of those most in need do not take up energy improvement measures because they are unaware of what is available, do not understand the information provided, or do not trust the organisations involved. Community Energy Plus (CEP) set up the Home Health programme to provide free energy efficiency advice and efficiency measures to communities in deprived areas or Cornwall.

The organisation

CEP is a registered charity and profit recycling company established in 1998. The core purpose of CEP is to achieve a sustainable energy future for communities and businesses in Cornwall through community outreach and public advice and engagement. In 2009 CEP launched a trading company, Low Carbon Futures, to help provide core funding by providing services including resource efficiency consultancy for businesses and brokerage of energy saving equipment. CEP had a turnover of £2.2 million and 31 staff in 2009/10.

The programme

How the programme works

The programme always works within a specific community, and provides information in a range of different ways, most importantly through a local community and health service referral network. The network includes GP surgeries, social services, churches and voluntary organisations; and many other organisations that are active in communities, like schools, post offices, community police and local businesses. Using this network builds trust, and CEP has been able to contact many people who might otherwise have slipped through the net. In some areas, 67% of households contacted have been interested to follow up, compared with a 1% response rate using a mail shot approach.

The technologies

Standard, proven efficiency measures are used. Insulation is provided for lofts, cavity walls and hot water tanks, as well as draught proofing. Thermostatic valves are fitted on radiators, and incandescent bulbs replaced with compact fluorescent lamps. Some homes are fitted with condensing boilers under the ‘Warm Front’ programme.

Many homes in Cornwall do not have cavity walls, and some of these have been fitted with external insulation. This has been particularly effective in the refurbishment of three storey blocks of flats know as ‘Cornish units’.

All installations are carried out by experienced local firms. Energy efficiency and advice is given to all homes where surveys and installations are undertaken.

How much does it cost?

CEP combined funds from different sources, so users do not have to pay for the measures installed under the Home Health programme. A major source of funding was through the energy efficiency commitments (EECs), and other funding came from local councils, the South West regeneration budget, and the Innovations programme of the Energy Savings Trust (EST).


By 2005, 5,036 homes had been surveyed and of those, 3,023 had major energy efficiency measures installed. This is a very high rate of take-up, and shows the effectiveness of the referral network.

Environmental benefits

Using standard figures from OFGEM, CEP estimates that the measures installed under the

scheme between 2002 and 2005 brought savings of 324 tonnes/year of CO2.

Other benefits

Residents benefit a warmer, more comfortable homeThis brings other advantages too – for instance, if children can study more comfortably then school performance improves. The incidence or respiratory diseases decreases when homes are warmer and less damp.

The energy savings also bring substantial financial savings to households, bringing many out of fuel poverty. Energy represents a much greater proportion of expenditure for poorer households than for the better-off, so these savings give a real financial benefit.

Through the Home Health programme over 1,000 households have been referred on to other partners for help in other areas, for instance to Help the Aged or the National Debt Line.

Update: what happened next?

The focus of Home Health continues to be on people in fuel poverty. Cornwall is now a Unitary Local Authority, so CEP provides services to all six districts within it. By 2010, energy efficiency measures had been provide to 21,086 homes (3,000 at the time of the 2005 Award), including over 10,000 cavity wall insulations and 4,000 loft insulations. Around 50,000 residents benefit, and greenhouse gas savings are estimated at 2,100 tonnes/year CO2. New installations now average about 4,000 per year. But an estimated 45,000 people in Cornwall are still in fuel poverty, so more needs to be done.

CEP launched a trading company, Low Carbon Futures, in 2009 to help fund core costs. Services offered include resource efficiency consultancy for businesses and brokerage of energy saving equipment. The target markets for 2010 were care homes and the tourism sector.

In April 2010, work started on a new two-year programme to support 20 rural communities in deprived parts of Cornwall through a structured process towards becoming Sustainable Energy Communities. CEP will help each community work out a baseline of their current position, draw up plans for action and deliver their first demonstration projects. This includes the establishment of an innovative local revolving fund that will draw its income from community, public sector and domestic renewable energy installations.

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