Sunday, December 31, 2006

Out With The Old, In With The New

Hello There My Friends,

I trust that you had a peaceful and happy Christmas and aren't being forced to the sales ! My compliments of the Season to you all.

Sean and I had a fabulous Christmas (I remarked it was the best one since I was 6 years old!) and together with a couple of friends, we gave up our Christmas Day to help alongside other volunteers at two churches in Stockport, Cheshire.

Our placement was at Grove Lane Baptist Church in Cheadle Hulme Stockport, and we were assisting around 50 guests to the Christmas lunch. There were people from all walks of life, ranging from gentlemen who are homeless to sisters and family members. The atmosphere from the start was amazing and so positive and cheerful.

We helped to set the tables for dinner, and the Reverend (Joanne - lovely lady who looked remarkably like Dawn French in the Vicar of Dibley) took a back seat whilst the organisers martialled everyone with almost military precision. The food was fantastic and we were like a conveyor belt with spuds, turkey, sausages, sprouts, stuffing, carrots, cranberry sauce, bread sauce and gravy.

Sean joined a chap called Albert for lunch. Albert lives alone and is a retired refuse collector with a wicked sense of humour and he has recently had his appendix out - at around 70 he was in good spirits and despite still having stitches from his operation, he polished off the dinner and then tucked into a large helping of Christmas pudding with custard and a mince pie !

Leo was another chap who attended - Leo likes his wine and you had to watched his hands as they seemed to try to find your backside when he talked to you lol !

There was a small family who tugged at my heartstrings, with one of the family members sadly suffering from cancer of the throat and lung. You could tell this chap was made of strong stuff and a natural comedian, with his nan (Elsie) and his older brother and his wife of 5 years enjoying the day. We got on famously, and have been invited to Simon and Claire renewing their wedding vows at the Church in 2007. I look forward to being there!

One of the volunteers was their resident artist - Graham pictured in his glorious waistcoat in one of the photos - whose handmade decorations and pictures and fabric wall hangings are superb. I have tried to capture this but the photos really don't do his work justice.

We took a chap called Sidney home to his bungalow with a box of sandwiches, some mince pies and a cyclamen plant. He enjoyed the heated front seat in Sean's car !

So all in all it was a fabulous way to spend the day and I would recommend it highly to anyone who may feel that they could give up their Christmas day to help people who may be less fortunate than yourself or people who simply are alone during the Festive period and all they crave is some good conversation and company.

Grove Lane Baptist Church is looking for volunteers to help out at afternoon tea during weekdays - if you can spare some time please contact them via the website to obtain further information.

I am going to suggest an energy efficiency afternoon session with a local installer so that people can get help and information with access to grants for heating and insulation etc. Hopefully we can continue spread the word !

So my friends I hope that when you reflect on 2006, I hope like me you don't look back in anger and are looking forward to a positive, prosperous and successful New Year !

Enjoy and make good choices - see you all in 2007!

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Who's The Biggest "Fuel"?

Hello My Friends,

Hope youre well today and not too fog bound. During the last few years I have been working within the rules of the Data Protection Act (as have many people) and I understand the principles behind this legislation.

However there are some cases I could mention where people definitely miss out on assistance or on being given useful information because of this Act or peoples' interpretation of it. In fact in some instances I know of people who have to a large extent hidden behind it and used it as an excuse not to action something that is fundamental wrong!

Take the piece in the Daily Mirror yesterday - highlighted to me by my 76 years young Dad, Mr Percy Taylor.

Pension chiefs scupper £10m heating giveaway
Edited By Steve Hawkes

BUNGLING pension chiefs have forced British Gas to scrap a £10million Christmas giveaway to its poorest customers. The energy giant wanted to heat the homes of 400,000 people over 80 for free in the "12 Days of Christmas".

But the Department of Work and Pensions has effectively blocked the scheme by refusing to contact its most vulnerable customers - those on pension credit. In a letter to stunned BG bosses, DWP head of strategy Lyn Macdonald blames a "policy-based decision". She adds: "We couldn't help one commercial company and not others in the sector."

Its decision comes despite support for the idea from Chancellor Gordon Brown and energy minister Lord Truscott. There are now atleast four million Brits in fuel poverty - spending at least 10 per cent of their income on gas and electricity.

Brown was so in favour of the plan, first mooted last month, that Treasury officials tried to get BG's rivals to do the same.

The industry-wide donation would have been matched by the government and was to be included in the Chancellor's pre-Budget speech.

A BG insider told Your Money yesterday: "The DWP is stuck in the old world. Ministers have been calling for us to do more for the over-80s. But the DWP seem to be saying let pensioners shiver in the name of equal treatment." British Gas has now decided to extend its existing Winter Rebate scheme to an extra 100,000 customers instead.

This gives money back to customers on benefits such as working tax credit, council tax credit or disability allowance.

A DWP spokeswoman told Your Money it would be "anticompetitive" to help one business. She added: "We would rather work through energy regulator Ofgem to help all people through all providers."

The DWP added there would have been data-protection concerns.

You can draw your own conclusions I am sure - what an outrageous example of beaurocracy and "PC"ness - peoples' lives could have been saved. I hope the people at the DWP who made this crass decision don't live to regret it if someone who could have been helped but for this block perishes during the Winter months. I pray for a mild Winter and for some sense to be injected into our Government at the DWP and inside Ofgem!

Make good choices.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Monday, December 18, 2006

Your Own Personal Eco Footprint

Hello my Fellow EECers!

Thats EEC as in Energy Efficiency Commitment ! Trust you are well.

I completed a Eco Footprint quiz today and I was totally shocked at my results. If everyone on the planet lived like I do at the moment then we would need 2.2 planets !!!

I would encourage you to take the same test and then pledge to improve your efficiency - my score collapsed around food and packaging of the food I buy. If Sean (my other half) chucks any half eaten cheese or grapes again I will take him to task! We all buy and then waste far too much food - especially at Christmas. So please think when you are about to buy things that you would never dream of eating at any other time just in case dear Uncle Norman might want to pick at a packet of dates or cashew nuts ! He can do without Im sure you will agree and still be dear Uncle Norman anyway x

Once again my friends - Make Good Choices.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Hello Friends,

I would like you to consider just how much energy you could save by simply turning your PC off when you aren't using it?

The answer is mind blowing - just think about the following facts taken from the fabulous initiative website

More than 30 billion kilowatt-hours of energy is wasted because many of us simply forget to shut down our computers when we’re not using them. If we could just improve the efficiency of how we use our PCs, the savings in energy costs would be over $3 billion! (thats nearly £1.6 billion at todays exchange rates). The CO2 emissions from just 15 computers are equivalent in energy terms to the fuel consumption used by one car.

A barrel of oil contains 42 gallons and produces an average 556 kilowatt hours of electrical power. Now consider your computer. A good spec PC can use up to 200 watts per hour. If you have a CRT monitor, it adds a further 80 watts (TFT screens use less). So your system is consuming over 1 KWh of power for every four hours of normal use. If you leave your computer on 24/7, that’s the equivalent of a whole barrel of oil every 90 days! If you optimize your computer with LocalCooling and power down when you’re not using it you could extend this to over six months!

Remember, if you leave the PC on with just a screen saver on the CRT when you’re not using it, it’s STILL using up to 280 watts per hour of completely wasted power. Power that pumps out 1.5lbs of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere for every KWh. If left on for 24 hours that’s 9lbs of CO2 every day and 3,285lbs per year. That’s more than 1.6 tons of CO2 thrown up into the atmosphere just to keep your one single PC working.

So my friends, turn it off when you have finished and make a difference immediately and SPREAD THE WORD!

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Earth:Dig It, But Dig It Right

Hey There My Friends,

As you may know from previous posts, I have been looking into the renewable technologies that we can access in the UK to help to reduce our burden on the Earth and its resources.

Ground source heat pumps are one of my favourite measures and will attract much attention from SHP's and their Building Contractors when reviewing their 10% renewable commitment for new build projects.

The cost of excavation can be an issue - however one solution could be to combine the application with the landscaping aspects of a development and this could work equally well with any retro fit projects too?

One thing to look out for though - when you dig your bore holes be careful how deep you go !

Come back soon and more news to follow - if you have any comments or questions please get in touch.

Make good choices!

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

The Size Of Our World

Hello Peeps!

Hope youre ok - just found a very thought provoking and interesting site that shows the scale of the Earth in our solar system and beyond.

Enjoy !!

From Your Friend The Energy Angel


Hello There My Friends,

Hope you are well and looking forward to Christmas this year. Isn't the weather freaky at the moment - trees sprouting new leaves at the same time as shedding this year's, plants flowering in December, warmest year on record (the latest in a line of the warmest years in history that have all occured in the past 12 years - 10 out of 12 !). And some people still want to argue that climate change and global warming arent real ??!!

Mr Simpson's funeral service was the most dignified affair that I have ever had the priviledge to witness and Mrs Simpson is simply an enigma. It was a sad day but it was lovely to meet all Joe and Marjorie's many friends - they know some great people and it was a pleasure to be in their company too.

The conversation turned to how I had met Mr and Mrs S and naturally we talked about energy bills and the cost of heating your home in the UK at the moment. I note with concern that none of the older people at the funeral and the tribute lunch afterwards had even heard of local grants or the Warm Front scheme - so hopefully we can work to put that right and raise awareness. Most of the lovely people who attended could benefit greatly from these forms of assistance and also probably be entitled to more household income etc?

Big news on Friday last week - British Gas, having lost almost 1 million customers this year, have decided to reduce their domestic tarrif(s) to reflect a drop in wholesale gas prices. Hoorah !! Its only taken them 4 months to announce this - do you think they will back date any rebate ?!

Good news - but will the other energy suppliers follow suit ? I guess it depends on how many clients would switch or if they can take a drop in profits?

British Gas owner Centrica plans to cut retail gas prices in Spring 2007 after a fall in wholesale costs.

Centrica also said its full-year earnings were on target to be more than many analysts had forecast, despite losing 978,000 accounts this year.

Facing stiff competition, Centrica is restructuring and added that it would cut 1,310 jobs to boost efficiency (hope my pal Linda will be okay).

Gas companies have been criticised in recent months for passing on high wholesale prices to consumers.

'Improving margins'

Centrica said that a price cut was on the cards because the "warmest autumn on record in the UK has coincided with the predicted additional supplies of gas being delivered".

It added that the extra supplies and a 15% decline in residential gas demand meant that "although the winter is still ahead of us, margins are improving".

"Against this background we have decided to absorb additional distribution costs of around £100m per annum, and we plan to reduce prices for our customers in the spring," Centrica said.

"We remain resolute in our belief that British Gas must establish reasonable and sustainable profitability to provide long-term energy security of supply while delivering value to the customer," it explained.

Many observers have complained that firms such as Centrica were making large profits at the expense of vulnerable energy consumers who would have been badly affected by high prices over the winter months.

Centrica said its British Gas Residential Energy division had returned to profit in the second half, helping the company to top the average analyst forecast for earnings of about 18 pence per share.

Shifting work

Centrica said it planned to shut headquarters of British Gas Residential Energy at Stockley Park with the loss of 700 back office roles. The staff will be relocated to Staines.

There will also be a restructuring of the British Gas Services team, with the loss of 340 jobs, with about 270 posts to go from the group's corporate structure.

Many of the employees losing their posts will be found alternative service positions at British Gas, Centrica said.

British Gas are only doing it as a means to avoid further millions jumping ship
Paul, London

The gas provider added that it expected its price cuts to help keep customers, and that even though it had lost 6% of customers this year, the rate of churn has slowed in recent weeks.

"Moving customers onto our new system undoubtedly led to some teething problems this year," said Chief Executive Sam Laidlaw. "And service levels need to be improved."

"Signalling these price decreases should help reduce churn," he added. "We will cut customer prices in the spring, with the exact amount to be decided once we have complete clarity of winter gas costs."

British Gas van

I love that word "churn" - yet another industry term ! Let's hope that when British Gas do bring reduced rates into effect in Spring 2007 (and heres hoping its a mild winter too) that no one suffers from the delays that such a late implementation will create.... they could help to remove a lot of clients from fuel poverty but talk is cheap. Let's see some action now Sam !!

Make good choices !

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Carbon Credit Card

Hi There,

According to an article featured recently in the Islamic State News Agency reports, every citizen in Britain could be issued with a carbon "credit card" to effectively ration individual use of energy sources blamed for causing climate change, according to a feasibility study published on Monday this week.

Environment Secretary David Milliband described the idea of individual carbon allowances as "a simplicity and beauty that would reward carbon thrift," and acknowledge that the plan faced technical difficulties. (JT - is he kidding? - how in the name of Sam Hill is this going to work?!! Who is going to monitor it, how will usage be measured, how do we prevent fraud, racketeering, abuse, will we all need to be tagged...!?)

Under the proposal, prepared by the Centre for Sustainable Energy for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Britons would have to swipe their carbon card every time they bought petrol, paid an energy utility bill or booked an airline ticket.

Every one would be given an annual allowance they could utilise.

If more carbon was wanted, it would have to be bought from someone else hoping to have a credit surplus.

Milliband insisted that "bold thinking is required because the world is in a dangerous place" due to climate change caused by carbon emissions.

"It is a way of pricing carbon emissions into individual behavior and it would recognize carbon thrift, as well as economic thrift," he said in an interview with the Guardian newspaper Monday.

The scheme was expected to be discussed at a special cabinet committee meeting on the future role of the state, but the environment secretary insisted that the government needed to overcome the technical difficulties the proposals faced.

The report suggested that some of the problems that needed to be solved included the risk of fraud, the cost of the scheme and the relationship of the scheme with plans to introduce ID cards.

I am certainly not in the habit of knocking innovation and creativity but there are seriously much more readily available mechanisms that should warrant Mr Milliband's immediate attention - practical reality rather than quango nonsense and yet more taxpayers' money going into another round of consultation.

Never mind the carbon credit cards David - where's the decision regarding EEC3 targets that were promised during December 2006 please?!

Hope you dont mind me ranting folks but this is whole idea is plainly unworkable and I felt compelled to shout on behalf of an industry that is crying out for stability!

Make good choices people!

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Mr & Mrs Simpson

Hello There,

Some sad news unfortunately.

I managed a scheme in Heywood near Rochdale a couple of years ago - with A&M Insulation - to provide insulation measures to private sector homes in the renewal area.

The scheme was a success and over 300 homes received measures and a number were also referred to Warm Front. One older couple who live on Green Lane in Heywood had loft insulation which unfortunately needed attention later as part of the fitting wasnt quite to spec. To their credit, A&M Insulation resolved the matter efficiently and the householders Mr & Mrs Joe Simpson were very happy.

I visited them with some flowers and chocolates by way of an apology for the inconvenience. From that visit, we became good friends, with Mr & Mrs Simpson entertaining me (literally sometimes!) with tales of their life together when they were singing and dancing for a living around the world. Mrs Marjorie Simpson (yes that really is her name but she doesnt have blue hair) won the karaoke competition on the QE2 when she was 80 !

I helped them to get a new heating system and a new fire. Joe Simpson loved his home and especially his garden which was always immaculate and I will always remember fondly the pink climbing roses around the door of the house in the summer.

Unfortunately Joe became ill late last year and was a bit weak when I visited them just before Christmas last year with a fabulous food hamper donated by Warmer Heating in Liverpool.

Joe and Marjorie were over the moon and it was fantastic to share this with them. Joe was a smart gentleman, with a neat moustache and haircut perfectly Brylcreamed into place. He had a wicked sense of humour and a cheeky twinkle in his eye - I can imagine he was quite the ladies' man when he was younger! Indeed the photos that they showed to me of their many trips and adventures were brilliant - they were a very handsome couple. They returned to England during the 1970's and Marjorie started a hairdressing business in the front room of their home. They still have the loud doorbell which always makes you jump!

Joe had a heart valve inserted around 10 years ago and this helped him to lead a more active and comfortable life. However he was susceptible to the cold and became poorly last year with flu. This led to a collection of fluid in his body which he couldnt disperse and eventually after a year of being ill the fluid reached his lungs and on Friday last week the GP confirmed that Joe was dying.

Mr Joe Simpson passed away at 11pm on Sunday 10th December 2006. He was 90 years young and died peacefully at home with Marjorie at his bedside to the end.

Joe's funeral service will take place on Thursday this week at the Rochdale Crematorium/Cemetery on Bury Old Road, Rochdale OL11 4DG at 11.50 am. He loved flowers so I hope that there will be many tributes to this kind and generous character.

Marjorie is devastated - they have been together for over 60 years. I cannot imagine how she feels but take comfort in the fact that there are lots of friends and family that are supporting her through this very difficult time. The Simpsons didnt have any children together, they preferred to breed Staffordshire Bull Terriers, but have local friends who help with shopping and care for Marjorie.

So my friends I hope that Thursday will be a celebration of Joe Simpson's fabulous life and I am so grateful that the Simpsons came into my life. Anyone who wishes to send flowers please contact the Rochdale Cemetery on the link provided.

Take care and please come back soon.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Monday, December 11, 2006

Give It Up!

Hello There My Friends,

I hope you enjoyed your weekend despite the dreadful weather. I joined my pal Ruth Tillbrook and her lovely son Adam (who is 6 and a total star) at the Morrisons store in Chorley to help raise funds for McMillan Support.

I made the journey from my house on the train - I was surprised at the high standard of comfort! So my journey was more environmentally friendly than taking the car - an option I don't have at the moment and its a bit too far to run !

We met some lovely people and I wasn't quite prepared for the sheer number of people who donated and whose lives have been touched by cancer. There was one gentleman who fund raises for McMillan and also Christies who was a true inspiration and gave us a different donation - four Christmas beanie bears ! We wore them on our McMillan tops with pride !

I would encourage anyone who is able to give up a day or a weekend to raise funds for a charity like these - rather than sponsoring the local school's rugby club tour ?! I know different topics appeal to people and everyone is fully entitled to choice but consider the work that McMillan does and indeed Christies hospital and organisations that provide much needed support and care.

Ruth's husband Robin Tillbrook organised the events that also took place at the Leigh branch of Morrisons and Robin and Ruth know first hand how horrowing it can be to lose a person to cancer - sadly Robin lost his parents. So inspired by the work that McMillan do, Robin is joining a group of likeminded people to attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro on 16th February 2007 to raise even more money for the charity.

I would suggest that if you would like to donate to an extremely good cause please visit Robin's page on the web - I wish him all the very best and considering the amount of training that he and his colleagues are undertaking (one particular Old Man - hill !! - has never had so much attention). In the meantime Ruth is continuing to be my personal trainer as we may well attempt a 10k run for charity in the Spring too - the donations would be for an MS related charity.

Enjoy your week and hope the photos brighten up your day and inspire you to give generously please. And if you donated over the weekend at the Chorley or Leigh Morrison's Stores thank you for your generosity.

One final comment - Adam was at the store with his Mum from 9am on Saturday and was there til around half five. He was an absolute star - at one point when he was getting a litle tired we created a makeshift seat for him on some store baskets. Ruth asked him if he wanted his coat to sit on - his reply was a classic - "Mum I don't want to sit on it, I want to wear it Man !" - needless to say there's no doubt that Adam is his father's son - Robin's a Geordie !

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What A Waste!

Hello My Friends,

Hope you are well.

One of the biggest and possibly most controversial decisions to be made by this Government is to invest some £21 billion into the Trident missile upgrades.

I understand that our country needs to make sure that our National security needs to be upheld. However the present fleet is due to be recommissioned in 2032 - thats a long way off, and the world since Trident was first commissioned has changed so dramatically that is this defence mechanism still valid?

This decision cuts right through the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty that this Government signed - we are supposed to be reducing our nuclear arms capability? So how is this decision valid and how can one support this initiative?

And how hyprocritical of this Government in the stance that they have taken against Iran for their nuclear energy developments - atleast they are putting that technology to a positive use and since when did the UK and the USA become the World's Police?

To put this enormous amount of funding into context, roughly £21billion would provide far more positive results:

60,000 new police officers
100,000 new nurses working in 80 new hospitals
1,300 new schools

And a rough calculation this funding could provide additional Winter fuel payments for the 60+ householders who struggle to heat their homes - up to 2,625,000 households could be assisted with extra funding of £800 per home. Thats their average total annual fuel bill taken care of - free heating for a year for all those homes!

Or a structured additional payment for a smaller amount of homes over a longer period of time.

If you consider the Warm Front grant at the current level of £2,700 allowance, the Trident ringfenced funding could provide assistance to an additional 778,000 households !

All in all, whatever your views on the use of nuclear weapons, how can this decision be allowed to be made without any consultation with the citizens of this country?

I for one am not interested in supporting anything that is simply for the legacy of Tony Blair and to satisfy his pre exit ego. Plus the "enemies" that the UK has are now much more sophisticated in terms of being cluster cells of terrorism, hiding amongst innocent communities, and some of them may unfortunately already be residing in the UK. So would Mr Blair suggests that we point a Trident missile that can cause 8 times the devastation of that of the Hiroshima bomb at towns and cities in this country never mind anywhere else?

Trident should go and so should Tony - and the sooner the better.

Thank you for your visit - please come back soon - make good choices

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Saturday, December 02, 2006

How Are The Elderly Coping With The Winter?

Hi There,

A BBC report today highlights increasing concerns about the ability of older people to ensure that they can keep warm in their homes this Winter.

So far, the temperatures have been pretty mild but as we head towards December that is likely to change - just look at the snow storms in the Mid West of the USA. Generally speaking, if the East Coast of the USA gets bad winter weather then the UK gets the tail end of this about a week after.

So be warned my friends and dont concine your scarf and bobble hat and the ice scraper to the cupboard ! The BBC Weather team predictions for our forthcoming Winter weather seems to indicate that we will have a mild winter but we will also get very cold snaps during snowfall. Its these cold snaps that can unfortunately be lethal.

Rod Griffiths, of the Faculty of Public Health said there would be "a lots more deaths, unecessary deaths, because people cant afford the fuel".

I know I have highlighted this issue before on earlier postings, but it is a huge concern and it doesnt appear that this Government is prepared to increase the winter fuel payments despite rising Council tax costs. Some older people will face a stark choice this winter as a result - do they struggle financially or cut back on heating their homes and on food. A recipe for disaster.

The present winter fuel payment covers less than one fifth of the average home heating bill. £200 does not represent the level of assistance that our seniors need - they need more support in line with the rising cost of energy. This point is underlined by both Help The Aged and Age Concern.

It is said more than a third of over 65s living on the lowest household incomes saw 10% of their earnings eaten up paying the bill.

Anne Gall

One quarter said they were left with either no money at the end of the month or having to forego some basics, such as heating.

Meanwhile, Brendan Paddy from Age Concern told BBC News 24 it was vital older people were able to keep themselves warm.

"As we get older our bodies are just less able to cope with extremes of temperature they used to be," he said.

"Older people tend to spend a lot more time inactive and in their homes so it's especially important they are able to heat their homes adequately."

Hobbies neglected

The government has said that pensioners' incomes are "higher than they have ever been".

But in the Help the Aged survey, 5% of those questioned had gone without some food, while 8% said they had cut back on heating.

The report also showed that 13% - equivalent to more than a million pensioners - had had to cut back on hobbies and socialising in order to meet council tax payments.

Anna Pearson, senior policy officer at Help the Aged, said: "The government must reform council tax so that it better takes account of income and in the short-term the chancellor should immediately return the £200 rebate on council tax bills to pensioners."

Discount withdrawn

The £200 discount was first made available before the 2005 general election but was later withdrawn.

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said the government was "proud of its record in tackling pensioner poverty" and as a result of changes since 1997, the average pensioner households were now £1,400 a year better off.

He added: "Those in receipt of pension credit guarantee are entitled to full council tax benefit, so should not be paying any council tax bills."

Shadow local government secretary Caroline Spelman said: "This research shows the genuine hardship and distress felt by some of the most vulnerable people in society as a result of Gordon Brown's decision to drive council tax up by 84% since 1997."

Well done Gordon, Tony and David Milliband - we all need to lobby our local MPs to raise the profile of this deplorable plight faced by many in our communities who have paid into society all their working lives, underwent the horrors of World War Two (and WW1), lived through many challenges - the last thing that these good people need to bear the brunt of is more profiteering by the energy suppliers.

As I said when British Gas were interviewed a few weeks ago at the UK offshore gas storage facility, how long do we need to wait until we start to see the costs reducing as the new pipelines and agreements come on board?

However this is hardly a good time to pick a fight about fuel agreements with the Russians is it?

Take care, enjoy your weekend and please come back soon. As always if you have any comments or questions please dont hesitate to drop me a line.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Friday, December 01, 2006

Miniature Earth

Hi There,

My good friend Mandy sent this link to me today - I found it very thought provoking and also very moving.

I hope you find it equally as emotive and pass on the details to your friends and contact too please - I will be making a donation today.

Make good choices people !

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

BBC Watchdog Part II

Hello There My Friends

Hope you are all feeling well and looking forward to the weekend.

What a week it has been ! Good for some people, but not so good for others ? It reminds me of that advert for a product where they suggest that for every stupid event that occurs in the world, an intelligent event happens in parallel so the overall balance is maintained.

Brings me nicely on to the BBC Watchdog item this week that highlighted an investigation into the Warm Front grant and how it is managed by Defra and Eaga.

I have recently resigned from this company (Eaga) and interestingly many of the issues that were raised during the investigation reported by BBC Watchdog touched the surface of some of my reasons for leaving.

It is beyond belief that this Government scheme that is aimed specifically at providing assistance to "vulnerable" groups of people can allow the issues highlighted by BBC Watchdog to be apparently condoned. I understand that many people operating in the domestic energy efficiency industry in the UK are equally concerned about how the Warm Front scheme is currently being managed - and rightly so.

In the September 2006 edition of the Warm Front Team bulletin issued to all Local Authority contacts in the North West of England (and I presume the same process applies to all other Councils in England?), Eaga highlight the number of measures and households that have received assistance via the Warm Front grant. In the September 2006 information, it was interesting to note that they also published their managing agent fees?

Of course I understand that a fee is appropriate for delivery of a service - that goes without saying. But surely there is a question to be answered about Value For Money and Quality Of Customer Service? The "customer experience" examples reported by BBC Watchdog were way below the benchmark.

Eaga have defended or will defend their position Im sure - and the fact that over 1.2 million homes have benefitted from the Warm Front scheme since its inception is a fabulous result. However the Eastern region of the Warm Front grant was previously managed by Powergen up to June 2005. If you look at the waiting times for central heating and insulation via the Warm Front grant in this area today, you will notice that part of this area has some of the longest lead times for measures in the whole country now?

I think the Warm Front scheme philosophy is great - but I question the fact that the company that currently manages the scheme for Defra also apparantly awards itself up to 33% of the total volume of the present contract via its own inhouse contractors? Bearing in mind that the total grant funding for Warm Front is running at around £250 million. Many heating and insulation contractors that have worked in the industry for over 15 years (during old HEES - the predecessor of Warm Front) have now lost a substantial amount of Warm Front contract work and many are facing insolvency procedures.

So my friends I hope you find the coming weeks leading up to Christmas relatively stress free and take a moment to think about those less fortunate than ourselves. I have had one of my best Christmas presents ever early this year so Im a happy bunny.

My boyfriend and I are planning a different approach to Christmas Day this year by helping out at local sheltered housing units, collecting the seniors from their homes nearby, transporting them to the community centre, helping to serve their Christmas dinner and then making sure they arrive back home safe and sound. We are really looking forward to this - and I look forward to the blogs about it with pictures I hope !

Take care and do come back again soon.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel