Free Energy Monitors Feb 2016 

Residents have the opportunity to use an energy monitor which allows householders to easily monitor their electricity usage. 6000 of these monitors have been provided free of charge by British Gas and are being distributed by Community Action Northumberland (CAN) through their community 'partners'. Evidence suggests that accurately monitoring electricity use can reduce consumption. The Chairman of Stocksfield Community Association has been  supplied with 2000 monitors to distribute across Tynedale. They have already distributed about 150 to Stocksfield residents and are in the process of allocating monitors to other Community Groups through the West Northumberland Community Buildings Consortium. Broomley and Stocksfield PC has promoted the availability of these monitors through it's Newsletter 

These monitors are very easy to install - requiring no electrical skills  - and are available to anyone - not just British gas customers. Norman Hooks, Chairman of Stocksfield would be happy to explain more - and even come along to demonstrate - though the instructions are easy to follow. Monitors can  be collected from Stocksfield Community Centre by arrangement with their manager (01661 842346).

The newsletter from the West  Northumberland Community Buildings Consortium has lots of news and can be downloaded from here

Energy Efficiency Project

Welcome to the Newton and Bywell Energy Efficiency Project! We aim to help residents to cut fuel bills while 'doing their bit' for the environment.

It's a well known fact that fuel prices are rising, and the cost of heating our homes is going up and up. Most of us in Newton and Bywell live in older properties which, although beautiful to the eye and built to last, do not meet modern standards for conserving heat. In other words, they are hard to keep warm and they guzzle fuel! Haven't we all noticed this, particularly during recent cold winters?

Fuel Prices 

Fuel costs are rising. Energy prices have doubled in the last seven years. Being in a rural area, without mains gas to heat our homes, most of us are at the mercy of rising oil prices. The Bulk Oil Purchasing Scheme run for the Parish can help you make savings on buying domestic heating oil. But wouldn't it be great to reduce the amount of fuel you need to buy, and to keep warm without getting stressed about the bill? That's where Energy Efficiency comes in. Whatever heating fuel you use - oil, bottled gas, electricity, wood - by reducing losses of heat from your home, by topping up insulation and cutting draughts, you can make fantastic savings. You could go further and use renewable energy to heat your home and hot water, such as solar thermal panels on the roof, or heat pumps instead of oil boilers.

 An Even Greater Cost

As well as concern about fuel costs, it is now common knowledge that the burning of fossil fuels, like oil and coal, contributes to climate change. When they are burnt, fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide, which in large amount, causes the world to hot up. Extreme weather, such as the persistent rainfall and flooding we have seen in the last two summers, is likely to become the norm under climate change. Climate change will be an unprecedented burden for our children and grandchildren. We share the responsibility to 'do our bit'. One way we can do this is by stopping our houses guzzling fuel like there is no tomorrow, by making them more energy efficient.

 Community Spirit and Support

 The Newton and Bywell Energy Efficiency Project, NBEEP, for short, has been created by volunteers in our community, under the umbrella of the 'Newton and Bywell Connects' Community Enterprise. It aims to help residents make savings on the amount of energy they use, and in doing so, to benefit the environment. Many residents have already taken steps to be more energy efficient; some have high levels of insulation, some are even generating heat and power using renewable technologies, such as solar panels, and many more have expressed a wish to be more energy efficient.

We aim to work together as a community, to inform, advise, assist, encourage and celebrate. There are significant changes we can make, many of them quite simple. We live in a supportive Community, with great Community Spirit, so together we can make things happen.

We have lift off!

 To get the project off the ground, NBEEP would like to find out more about the types of houses, their levels of insulation, their fuel types and approximate annual bills. This will give us a benchmark to work from. As one person put it, you wouldn't start a diet to lose weight without getting on the scales first.  Therefore we will be inviting householders to help us establish the Parish footprint -  you can help us make a start by completing this short survey.

 Help and Communication

NBEEP can provide help and information on energy efficiency steps, for example, through the website, through a talk or demonstration at the village hall, and through smaller get togethers, even one to one if you would find it helpful. As well as providing information on what steps can be taken, NBEEP can also explore costs and possible grants, so residents know more about the financial aspects. Some residents may want information about specific items, such as solar hot water heating, and NBEEP could provide a useful service here to bring residents together to share information, talk to the experts and, potentially, acquire some bulk purchasing discounts. Let us know if we can help.

 Be Quick - Free Loft Insulation for over 70s

 Make sure your house has got its hat on! Heat rises, and that means that much of your home's energy escapes through the roof. By installing insulation in your loft, to a thickness of 8 inches, you could reduce your heating bill by 20% !

For a limited time, people over 70 in Northumberland can get free loft insulation under a Government scheme. These schemes have already ended in many other counties, so you need to act quickly. If you fall into that category, or know someone who does, then either look into the scheme, or get in touch with NBEEP and we will help you. Most electricity providers run the scheme, eg. Npower, British Gas.

Too much stuff in the loft?

 Other Community Projects have often found that people who are entitled to free loft insulation don't ask for it because they have a lot of stuff stored in their loft which needs to be moved. If you need help with sorting out your loft to make space for insulation, contact NBEEP, we will try to help.

Whatever your age, if your loft was insulated a long time ago, it's worth looking to see what your loft does have (it might not be to the adequate thickness, 8”, or it might be a substandard material, such as a vermiculite granules). Topping up with an extra layer could make great savings.

 Benefit for all

NBEEP aims to benefit the whole community. If you feel there is an aspect of energy efficiency and/or renewables which you and the community would particularly benefit from finding out more about, please get in touch, and we'll try to help.

Also, if you would like to be more actively involve in NBEEP, or have potentially useful experience/contacts, please get in touch with Ali on or tel 07952 535217.

First Meeting a Success!

The Newton and Bywell Energy Efficiency Project kicked off on 19th February 2013 with its first meeting at the Community Hall, attended by 24 keen and interested participants. Alison gave a whistle-stop tour of the world of insulation, draught proofing and domestic renewable energy options , to give participants a flavour of the many different ways we can conserve energy and reduce our bills.

Alison described how she has reduced her winter energy bills by 50%, through use of insulation and some renewables (air source heat pump, solar thermal and wood burner). Bills are, on cold wintry days, about £4.50 per day, for all electricity and heating.

Newton and Bywell Energy Efficiency Project – Finding the Money to Cut your Bills


Many residents would like to cut their fuel bills, but two things often get in the way – the cost and the jargon! Newton resident Alison Vipond has waded through the jargon and here summarises available grants and incentives.

The Affordable Warmth scheme provides funding to people who need it most, for energy-saving improvements like new boilers, insulation and double/secondary glazing. It applies to private homeowners and tenants. If you receive benefits, you are likely to be eligible and the improvements are completely free. You can check out your eligibility and find out more by telephone 0300 123 1234 or online: Or contact Alison for help.


You may have already heard of the Green Deal, launched in January 2013 to provide finance to homeowners, landlords, tenants and businesses to fund energy saving improvements. First, an approved assessor does a Green Deal Assessment of the house (about £150), to identify the most cost-effective ways to save energy. You then apply for a Green Deal loan to fund the installation by an MCS accredited installer. The loan is repaid via your electricity bill. The repayments are calculated to be compensated by the savings in your fuel bills.


A really interesting development is the Government’s new Green Deal Cashback scheme, launched this month. There is £40million available. You can claim up to 50% of installation costs for insulation, double glazing or a replacement condensing boiler. Interestingly, this applies whether you take out a Green Deal loan or pay upfront. If the idea of getting a loan doesn’t grab you, and you can pay upfront, it makes huge sense to go apply for this scheme and get the cashback. The earliest applicants will receive the largest percentage cashback.


It’s worth noting that a Green Deal loan is ‘unsecured’ and so attracts a higher interest rate than a mortgage. The loan stays attached to the house, so if you were to sell, the buyer would take on the responsibility for the loan. There has been press speculation that a ‘Green Deal’ house might be harder to sell, but equally, a buyer might prefer a well-insulated, efficient home, even with the Green Deal loan. By incentivising the Green Deal with the cashback payments for early applicants, the Government anticipates that the Green Deal will become more commonplace.


If you don’t fancy the Green Deal loan, another way to fund improvements is through your mortgage, which should have a lower interest rate than an unsecured loan.  


If you’ve done your insulation and eliminated your draughts, you might want to generate your own green energy. If you have solar panels, a heat pump or biomass boiler, as well as producing energy for your own use, you get paid for what you generate. Systems must be installed by an MCS accredited installer to qualify. Solar photo-voltaic panels (for electricity) qualify for regular repayments from the Government under the Feed-in-Tariff scheme. Biomass boilers, solar thermal and heat pumps will qualify for Renewable Heat Incentive payments (launching this Spring). The schemes are relatively easy to set up and will repay you, over a period of about 8 to 11 years, for the installation costs. In the case of solar PV, they will also generate some profit. Wind and anaerobic digesters also qualify for incentives.


Landlords will be aware that from 2018, the Energy Bill will require minimum energy efficiency standards for all rented homes. From 2016, tenants will be able to ‘demand reasonable energy efficiency improvements from their landlords’. Using the Landlords Energy Saving Allowance, landlords can offset the cost of green improvements against their tax bill by up to £1500 per house per year.


For more info/help on energy matters: Alison: 07952 535217

 Photographs of some house roofs in the Parish attracted a lot of attention. They were taken a couple of days after snowfall in January. Some roofs were still deep in snow, but on several houses, snow had already melted, meaning they were losing a lot of heat through the roof. Residents were keen to check their own loft insulation ( 10 inches is best).

Experience Register – Can You Help?

There was a lively and wide-ranging Q&A session, reflecting the varied needs and interests of our residents. Questions ranged from how good is secondary glazing film, to what's the set up for a ground source heat pump? There are many residents who already have experience of a range of energy efficiency steps. It would be good to put together a Local Experience Register. If you are willing to share your experience with other members of our Project, then please contact Alison to be on the register. Categories for the Experience Register are:

Solid Wall Insulation, Secondary Glazing (film or glazed units), Floor insulation and underfloor heating, Solar thermal panels (for hot water), Solar PV panels (for electricity), Heat pumps (air and ground), Biomass boilers (wood fuelled) and Heat Recovery Ventilation Systems.

Got a question?

One of the aims of the Energy Efficiency Project is to help residents find information which will help them save energy. If you have any problems or questions, please get in touch and we will try to help. Alison is happy to visit project members to give an impartial opinion.

Simple Steps Make Big Savings

There were energy saving products on display (thank you to Gavin Boyd at Matthew Charlton, Hexham for making these available). Participants were reminded that great savings could be made from a few simple steps to stop draughts from doors, windows, floor and skirting boards, etc. (But don't block ventilation bricks!) Don't forget easy things like radiator reflective panels to fit behind radiators fitted to external walls, and even closing your curtains at night and tucking them behind radiators under windows. More information on our Draught Busters page and the Energy Saving Trust webpage.

Personal heater

Local resident Tony Trapp was invited to show us his latest product, the Snuglin, which is a personal heater, in the shape of a fleecy cushion which has a safe heater inside it. It's cheap to run and a bit like a hot water bottle which always stays a cosy temperature. More information on

Home Energy Survey

To keep the momentum going, please complete our short Home Energy Survey on this website. It'll highlight areas where residents could make savings. This will be a real help when we come to apply for community grant funding, and also make sure we are providing relevant information.


If you are planning on buying any energy efficiency products, please do mention this project. Being part of a community project will help to gain discounts, as merchants are keen to be associated with projects like ours. We can also coordinate large orders, such as insulation, to get the best bulk price. Matthew Charlton (Hexham) have already offered us a Sustainability Partnership Card, where you can make savings on energy efficiency products. Please email Alison if you want one.

Bulk Buying Oil

Julia Plinston of Community Action Northumberland came to the meeting to raise awareness of Age UK's current project to address fuel poverty in rural areas, particularly where there is no mains gas (like ours!). The project aims to encourage older people to join Bulk Oil Purchase schemes, to ensure the best possible prices for oil. You can register your interest with Age UK for a national scheme. Newton and Bywell also has its own scheme, which is free to join (contact

Julia has kindly offered to act as a bridge for the Newton and Bywell Energy Efficiency Project to other similar projects in Northumberland. Thank you to Julia.

Bulk Buying LPG – are you interested?

Are you paying through the nose for LPG? Would you like to join a bulk purchasing scheme for LPG? This is something we would like to look into, so please get in touch if you would be interested. Two residents described recent huge savings thanks to ringing a different LPG supplier to check prices!

Energy Fair in Hexham in May

Transition Tynedale are organising their Energy Fair, to be held on Saturday 11 May 2013 in Trinity Church Hall in Beaumont Street, Hexham. The aim of the fair is to demonstrate what residents of Tynedale can do to reduce their carbon footprint in the areas of energy savings and renewable energy generation in their own homes. There will be local suppliers showcasing energy efficiency and green energy products. Definitely worth a trip!(

Grant funding for individuals and landlords

At the meeting, we touched on The Green Deal, the Landlords' Energy Saving Allowance and the Energy Companies' obligations to provide grants for solid wall insulation.

The Green Deal is essentially a loan for make energy efficiency improvements to your property, which is paid back from the savings you make in fuel bills. There is also a good 'mythbusters' guide online. We will closely watch development on the Green Deal and keep you posted.

The Landlords' Energy Savings Allowance is a tax allowance of up to £1500 per rented property against energy saving improvements. This allowance applies until April 2015. Now is the time to act. If you are tenant, you could draw this to the attention of your landlord if you think there are improvements which could be made.

We await further details of the new Energy Companies' Obligation as they become available. Clearly many stone properties in our parish could benefit from solid wall insulation grants.

Community Renewables Scheme?

As well as making improvements to our own homes, there may be schemes we can operate on a community-wide scale. Many other projects have achieved this, to generate renewable power and income for the community. Your ideas are always welcome. Alison will put together some case studies based on other projects to provide us with inspiration.

Thanks to all who attended the first meeting! Your interest and enthusiasm are heart-warming.

Contact details for Newton and Bywell Energy Efficiency Project:

Alison Vipond, tel 07952 535217


NBEEP helped organised the successful Hexham Green Energy Fair


Participants in the Energy Efficiency Project are keen to find out more about green energy technologies.


NBEEP coordinator, Alison, teamed up with Transition Tynedale volunteers, to organise and run the Hexham Green Energy Fair which took place on 11th May 2013.


The Green Energy Fair was attended by over 200 members of the public, with the opportunity to talk to 12 exhibitors from local renewable energy companies. All technologies were covered, from biomass to wind, heat pumps to solar. The event was a great success, with a busy exhibition hall, a charity cafe, a craft corner to keep the kids happy, and a display of school children's green energy posters. Visitors were interested and informed. They appreciated the opportunity to ask questions of a range of local businesses. There was also the opportunity to talk to members of the public who have already installed renewables. It was excellent to see so much interest.

 We are already looking ahead to planning another Green Energy event next year.


 Don't forget that the warmer months are the best time to put energy efficiency measures in place, in time for next winter. For tips on insulation and draught proofing, check out the Energy Saving Trust website.