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Action in Communities: Access to Energy and Addressing Fuel Poverty

Durham Energy Institute works with communities to support local energy projects and to inform local discussions on energy issues such as fracking and heat networks. It also works with local authorities and regional bodies on regional energy projects and has a schools outreach programme on energy education and encouraging engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths subjects.

"DEI researchers have engaged local people in the debate about how we will power and heat their homes in the future and how they are impacted by some of the major changes that are happening now as well as what we might expect to see in future years. Energy plays such a fundamentally important role in all of our lives and the DEI is helping communities understand how they can help drive, shape and plan for these changes."

- Jenny Saunders OBE, former CEO of National Energy Action

Working with National Energy Action

National Energy Action (NEA), a national fuel poverty charity, has collaborated on research with Durham University for over a decade. Their connection, however, goes back almost 40 years when students at Durham University established a group of volunteers to install loft insulation in the homes of elderly local people, and in 1981 Neighbourhood Energy Action was established. Since then NEA evolved into an independent national charity, and today employs over 70 staff across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. As a member of the DEI’s Advisory Board, NEA supports the institute in its aims to unlock research synergies between different disciplines and sectors, and to bridge the gap between science and society. Working with the DEI helps NEA to better broker knowledge and insights between academic and policy and practice communities, which assists our efforts to reduce energy vulnerability and to ensure that people are central to efforts to address the energy challenges of the future.

Working with Durham County Council

DEI is working with Durham County Council on developing innovative low-carbon community solutions including strategies for reducing energy usage and energy poverty. Improving the energy efficiency of our homes is a significant way in which we can reduce energy demand, energy bills and reduce carbon emissions resulting from energy generation.

The Solid Wall Insulation (SWIi) project is funded by Durham County Council, Durham University and European Regional Development Fund to install new and advanced solid wall insulation systems on over 200 stone and brick built properties in towns and villages across County Durham.

Properties in the scheme are also benefitting from the installation of a 'HIVE' smart heating controller.

Durham University Energy Institute is the project research partner and will be monitoring selected properties and households in the scheme to demonstrate the effectiveness of SWI on energy usage and energy bills.

The research project will provide data on the impact of the insulation on energy usage, home temperatures, humidity and draughts within the properties as well as monitor the use and acceptance of smart app-controlled heating technologies. The findings will provide real-time insight into domestic use of this technology and the use and application of smart heating controls for domestic users.