It’s that time of year when Open Eco Homes events happen up and down the country. Totnes are doing it, as are Bridport, West Bridgford, Lewes, Stroud and others. A Green Open Homes event is an opportunity to ask a neighbour about an energy saving improvment that they’ve made, and see if it might work for you. On an event day, householders who have made low carbon improvements to their homes open them up to share their experiences with neighbours and others.
They are an excellent way for people to find out about the reality of getting solar panels, insulation, triple glazing, or new heating options without talking to a salesman. Visitors can ask the residents whether the installation was a hassle, and how much they’re really saving on their energy bills as a result. These events are an effective way of inspiring people to take action to make their homes more energy efficient. Events come in all shapes and sizes, take place over one day or several weekends, and might feature as few as six or as many as 40 homes.
In 2013, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) awarded funding to the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE), working in partnership with Bristol Green Doors (a national leader in running local low carbon open homes events) to set up a national Green Open Homes network to stimulate more activity and provide support for low carbon open homes events across the country. Transition Network was one of the organisations delighted to be able to offer advisory support.
The aim was to help new open homes events and networks get off the ground all around the country, to increase people’s feeling that making energy saving improvements is ‘normal in my neighbourhood’. For groups who already ran small open homes events, our goal was to help them flourish, to make the events bigger, easier to deliver, and have more impact.
A searchable directory of Eco Homes events was set up, a collection of 18 guidance notes for would-be event organisers, over £180,000 was distributed in grants, a national roadshow took place, and a newsletter produced. 49 organisations were supported, some of which were Transition groups. At the end of the project, here’s a sense of its impact:
- Number of organisations we supported: 49
- Events established or revived: 27
- Number of homes taking part in events: 607
- Total number of visitors to events: 10,106
- Visits to the website (‘sessions’): 20,210
- Website pageviews: 92,980
Here’s a video about Sustainable Frome’s event:
Here is a short report about the project. If you are thinking about running an Open Eco Homes event in your community in 2015, have a look at the support that’s available, and perhaps go along to one of this year’s events for some inspiration. Transition Network would like to offer its congratulations to the Centre for Sustainable Energy in Bristol for running the programme so well, and was delighted to have been able to play a role in making it happen.