AT a time when the cost of living is soaring and the debate rages over the Government’s green policies, it is comforting to know that help is at hand for making our homes warmer and drier and reducing our fuel bills in the process, writes Elizabeth Atkinson.

And help is indeed at hand, as was made clear by the two inspiring speakers at Carhampton Climate Group’s ‘Home Energy’ event - Atha Murphy, from the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE), and Chris Gaskell, from the Somerset Climate Action Network (Somerset CAN).

Support is available both to people who are struggling in hard-to-heat homes and need financial as well as practical help, and to people who would like to improve their home energy efficiency themselves but are not sure how.

Two key funding sources are available for low-income, low energy performance households: HUGS (Somerset’s Home Upgrade Grant Scheme) and the Government’s ECO (Energy Company Obligation) programme.

Atha Murphy, from the Centre for Sustainable Energy.
Atha Murphy, from the Centre for Sustainable Energy. (Elizabeth Atkinson)

Both provide measures such as insulation, heating, replacement doors and windows and solar panels.

And the Government’s Great British Insulation Scheme can provide free insulation to low energy performance homes in Council Tax bands A-D regardless of household income.

For information and advice, search for grants and funding at or ring CSE on 0800 082 2234 or email [email protected].

Help is also available for those who want to improve their home energy efficiency themselves.

CSE’s Futureproof initiative (, 0800 038 5007) offers advice, support and home energy surveys.

Home-owners can also make immediate improvements to their home energy efficiency by insulating lofts (including loft hatches), floors, and cavity walls, while always ensuring that there is sufficient ventilation to prevent a build-up of damp.

These and the many other measures to improve home energy efficiency are known as ‘retrofit’, as opposed to measures incorporated into new buildings.

And Somerset Climate Action Network’s Chris Gaskell is heading up ‘Retrofit Somerset’, an advisory service aimed at supporting Somerset residents.

See for a green register of local installers and case studies of home-owners’ retrofit.

Chris Gaskell, retrofit manager for the Somerset Climate Action Network.
Chris Gaskell, retrofit manager for the Somerset Climate Action Network. (Elizabeth Atkinson)

Chris is currently seeking responses on people’s retrofit views and needs - see or email [email protected] (tel 07961 310201).

West Somerset Green Forum (formerly Forum 21) is also seeking people’s experiences and problems with home energy efficiency.

Hester Watson, of WSGF, has been providing home energy advice to local residents for many years and is currently recruiting local home energy champions to boost the local support available.

Accessing funding can be a struggle, but Hester can provide dedicated local help and support by emailing [email protected] or calling 01643 821768.

And there will be an opportunity to learn more about home energy support at West Somerset Green Forum’s public meeting and annual meeting at Williton Pavilion on Friday, November 10, starting at 7 pm.

These issues are close to all our hearts (and pockets!).

Whatever our financial situation, discovering how to improve our home energy efficiency can only be a good thing.