A very busy first year …….

At its first anniversary, these were some of the key milestones:

  • Application for grant funding from ‘Learning to Deliver’ to set up project – Autumn 2008 Early discussions with key figures/representatives in the village regarding the concept of setting up a ‘pilot low carbon community’ – Autumn 2008
  • Confirmation of funding – December 2008
  • Formation of the Steering Group – January 2009
  • Presentation to Parish Council February 2009
  • Presentation to Derrington WI February 2009
  • Questionnaire designed/consultation exercise carried out by group (to identify initiatives and projects with a sustainability theme, that people might be interested in eg energy surveys/advice and buying local produce). Distribution of Questionnaire to all households by volunteers – 66 questionnaires returned (15% response rate)
  • Various Publicity/Promotion: Posters/articles in the Church and Village Magazine/press releases
  • Meeting with local Headteacher, Cooper Perry Primary School, Seighford and subsequent participation/support by local school
  • Submission for funding to BRE Community Sustainable Energy Programme for Feasibility Study on energy measures at Village Hall – successful and report subsequently completed by Marches Energy Agency
  • Led Health Walks established, every Wednesday at 2pm
  • Design of project logo/branding/construction of Giant Thermometer/Launch Event fliers/posters
  • Launch Event May 30th – around 200 attending the colourful event! with 77 ‘planet pledges’ made and tied to the cherry tree outside the village hall. Women’s Institute received £100 in donations from refreshments at Launch Event and have already bought/planted a wide range of new plants for the Millennium Herb Garden
  • Stall/exhibition at Derrington Church Fete – June 6th
  • Richard Davies (speaker from Marches Energy Agency) ‘From Ambition to Action’, July 14th
  • Furniture Exchange (furniture re-use scheme) collection July 2nd
  • Back 2 Bikes (bicycle recycling project) collection July 2nd
  • The first Local Food Festival at Derrington Village Hall held – Sept 12th Excellent support with around 300 participants
  • Energy Audit of Village Hall undertaken on Oct 7th – report received Nov 2009
  • 54 Home Energy Surveys and Reports completed at Nov 16th (15% of households in village). An Evaluation Survey and Report was completed in December 2009. Data extrapolates that Derrington’s residents have an average carbon footprint/person 7.6 tonnes of CO2 with the highest emissions at 30 tonnes and the lowest at 3.4 tonnes.
  • Designed and purchased two promotional pull up banners
  • Obtained quotes from contractors for various energy measures at the Village Hall
  • Submitted bid for Leader funding for Village Hall energy measures and attended Rural Panel
  • Successful bid for funding from ‘Community Centres and Village Hall Grant Scheme’ for energy measures at Village Hall
  • Launch of Local Food Fact Sheet by Her Worshipful The Mayor and One Year Anniversary Tea Dance, March 2010
  • Opened bank account and established draft constitution April 2010
  • Presentation to Parish Council about becoming a Fairtrade Village April 2010

Learning and Sharing

  • We have researched other community based low carbon initiatives, including local and national projects – such as Ashton Hayes (Cheshire), Whittington and Fisherwick (Staffordshire), ReaVEN (Shropshire).  Derrington – Way Ahead is a member of the Low Carbon Communities Network; it is working with countywide groups such as Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and partnerships such as Staffordshire Climate Change Partnership and Stafford Borough networks and groups such as Sustainability Matters, Stafford Friends of the Earth, Action Organic, Stafford Area Action for Fairtrade, Transition Stafford etc.  Cannock District Council has recently launched its first low carbon community project at Norton Canes and utilised Derrington’s consultation questionnaire and asked the group to support its launch event.

Involving Everyone!

  • There is support from community leaders as well as the community in general.  There is support from local partners too, to help delivery e.g. Women’s Institute and Derrington Millennium Green Trust.
  • The ‘Derrington – Way Ahead’ Steering Group contains volunteers and representatives in the village, with a wide range of supporters including local farmers and producers, the Film Club, Brownies, plus skilled individuals and professional from the village e.g. a joiner, a face painter etc.
  • We have sought comment, feedback and input at several opportunities including:
  • Initial Consultation Questionnaires, Planet Pledges at launch event, Evaluation Forms given out during Film Season, Evaluation/Data collection carried out by Beat the Cold including carbon footprinting/carbon calculations and behavioural change, Feedback/opportunities to comment via the web pages.
  • The initiative has aimed to promote diversity and equality and to encourage participation by all, including those with special needs or disabilities. Examples include:
  • 14 out of 52 households that have had energy performance reports are in receipt of a disability benefit;
  • Encouraged and supported participation of individuals with mental health issues and physical disabilities
  • The project has also aimed to support low income households through energy measures/tackling fuel poverty, promoting and improving accessibility of local food, planting fruit trees etc.
  • The projects aims to work ‘cross-generationally’ too, with the Primary School and with older residents. The Fairtrade Tea Dance/anniversary event aimed to offer an intergenerational dimension.

Home Energy Visits

  • Beat the Cold offered home visits, helped with project planning and attended various events and steering group meetings. Home visits were made to 53 households (15%), with the aim of providing:
  • a baseline for every household on their homes efficiency through Energy Performance Reports (EPR), which involved collecting data on the heating systems, heating controls, lighting, the size of the property and checking electric meters.
  • a household carbon footprint, based on data relating to behaviour and lifestyle, as a baseline from which to make improvements
  • expert carbon saving and energy advice
  • opportunities for direct energy monitoring via the distribution of a dozen energy monitors which were passed on from household to household enabling residents to monitor their real time energy usage and differentiate between the electricity consumption of different electrical items
  • information, help and support depending on the clients’ needs eg linking to partner organizations eg Orbit, making referrals where necessary, helping access grants for loft and cavity wall insulation, switching to Social Tariffs
  • a raised awareness of the wider issue of climate change and how householders can become more sustainable
  • All households were invited to participate, regardless of income, with exta assistance given to vulnerable households to access grants and social tariffs. Households were also signposted to various organisations and where necessary, referrals were made to appropriate agencies.
  • After each home visit householders received a reusable bag (promoting local food and the Staffs OC3 climate change project), a Derrington-focussed thermometer card, a ‘flush and save bag’ for the lavatory, a fridge thermometer and either a computer or a TV Powerdown kit.
  • Further detail of the support given, recommendations, advice, contents of the home energy report etc are given in full evaluation report from Beat the Cold.

Carbon savings 

Carbon savings can be both instant and long term. The instant ones include installing energy measures such as insulation, replacing boilers, choosing more efficient electrical appliances, as well as immediate behavioural change. However, long term carbon savings result from personal choices and actions resulting in long term lifestyle change.

Energy Measures Approximate CO2 savings (t/year)
Loft insulation (9 homes) 2.18
Cavity wall insulation (4 homes) 2.44
Light bulbs 1.66
Energy monitors (21 households) 6.34
TV Power-downs 0.88
Computer Power-downs 0.48
Tank Jackets 0.19
Savings on Carbon Footprint for household that sold car 1.67
Installation of a new boiler 2.3
Total CO2 savings in first year 14.97
Home energy advice 35.78 t carbon/lifetime
Planting 113 trees 84.75 t carbon/tree


Energy Monitors

Since the introduction of the Energy Monitors the following types of behaviour changes were reported by the residents: Timing showers to 4 minutes; Changing the breakfast routine so the kettle is only put on once not twice; Making sure the computer is shut down when not in use; Turning off unused lights; 1 person has fixed the lid on a freezer so it shuts properly; with the intention of buying a new one as soon as possible, when they saw how much it was costing them; purchase of ‘A’ rated fridge and freezer, and a new kettle with a water gauge; many residents stated that the Energy Monitors made them more aware of their electricity usage and were highly conscious when switching things on.

Household referrals

Of the households visited, a number of referrals were made to the following agencies; Orbit – Handyperson 9; Orbit – Home Fire Risk Checks – 6; Fire Service – Home Fire Risk Check – 3.

Vulnerable households

Beat the Cold brought its expertise of working with vulnerable households to this project and assisted with the following: Accessing social tariffs (4); Introducing people to the Priority Service Register (9); 2 householders had gas installed several years ago and the Economy 7 meter was not replaced with a single phase meter. One household calculated that they would save money by changing meters. An installation date for a new meter was arranged and the household was also put onto the priority services register. The other household decided to make more use of their cheaper night rate and keep their Economy 7 meter.

Bespoke Advice

Beat the Cold gave generic advice and information materials but also researched and provided specific feedback to households.

E.g. one resident was interested in under-floor insulation. Beat the Cold undertook research and produced a basic fact sheet on this topic.

E.g. two households expressed an interest in renewable energy (solar thermal and ground source heat pumps). Practical information and costs were passed on to these interested parties.

Case Studies

Case Study One

One householder, (an 80 year old) had a single rate meter installed by a meter company 7 years ago, replacing her multi rate meter. Her only source of heating was electric storage heaters. She thought she was on Economy 7 and was shocked to find she was not. This explained her high fuel bills.  Beat the Cold spoke to the fuel company, which she moved to 3 years ago, and found that she was on a standard tariff.  As a result of Beat the Cold’s intervention the fuel company agreed to install a multi rate meter, free of charge, and volunteered to recalculate her fuel bill since the date she moved to them.  She subsequently received a refund for £532.

She also had insufficient loft insulation, which Beat the Cold arranged to be topped up using the Over 70’s CERT scheme.  She did not use her hot water cylinder because she had had a leak and was scared to leave it on.  We contacted a local electrician who recommended installing a timer for the Economy 7 rate and an hour boost button. He also checked the storage heaters were working correctly and fitted a hot water cylinder jacket.

Case Study Two

A family of two adults and two girls booked a home visit after attending the Local Food Festival.  They were very enthusiastic about the idea of growing food and saving energy.  They borrowed an Energy Monitor and have decided to invest in one of their own.  Also they have become more aware of their transport habits and the girls now take public transport to school and mum has 20 minutes more in the mornings for a cup of coffee.  They have also applied to the Boiler Scrappage Scheme for a replacement boiler.  The girls are activity switching off equipment and light to save money.  They show the energy monitor to everyone that comes to the house and tell others how good it is and how it saves money!

 Evaluation results for households that had a home energy visit

 This feedback survey was for those households that had a home visit and was filled in over the phone by the Beat the Cold project officer.  Responses were collected from 64% of those that had a home visit ie 34 households.  The results from the feedback survey are as follows:

Question ‘Yes’ Response
Did you find the Home Visit useful? 91 %
Did you find the Home Energy Report and extra information useful? 69%
Have you used Back 2 Bikes since the visit? 9%
Have you used the Furniture Exchange since the visit? 6%
Have you used Orbit since the visit? 17%
Have you made a choice to buy more seasonal foods? 31%
Have you made a choice to buy more local produce? 46%
Have you changed your travel habits? 26%
Do you walk, cycle or use public transport more? 29%
Did you use an energy monitor? 49%
Did you install a powerdown? 63%
Have you replaced light bulbs with low energy bulbs 60%
Have you made improvements to house and other energy measures? 58%

Evaluation results from general feedback questionnaire, at the end of the first year.

This questionnaire was distributed to households by volunteers/steering group members.  In order to obtain results in advance of a grant funding bid deadline, questionnaires were circulated early in the new year.  The inclement weather (icy pavements meant hazardous conditions) effected the response rate which at 16% was somewhat lower than expected (though still high in relation to the ‘typical response rate of 2%’, according to a data capture consultant from ‘Usability’.  The survey obtained 55 responses and the results are as follows:

Question ‘Yes’ Response
Are you personally concerned about climate change and the future of the planet? 87 %
Do you feel this project has benefited the environment? 75%
Do you feel the project has benefited you? 78%
Do you know there are Derrington Way Ahead web pages? 60%
Do you support Derrington becoming a Fairtrade Village? 76%
Would you like to see solar PV panels on the village hall roof? 75%
Do you think an electric pool bike scheme would be useful 20%
Do you think bicycle parking round the village would be useful? 42%
Have you:Changed your travel habits?Used the car less?Car shared?Used public transport more?Walked or cycled more? 44%20%5%18%24%
Had you heard of Back 2 Bikes before the project?Have you since used Back 2 Bikes? 55%20%
Had you heard of the Furniture Exchange before the project?Have you since used the Furniture Exchange? 78%11%
Did you attend any climate change/sustainable development films at the village hall? 31%
Would you like more films to be shown? 55%
Have you made a choice to buy more seasonal foods? 31%
Have you made a choice to buy more local produce? 46%
Have you changed your travel habits? 26%
Do you walk, cycle or use public transport more? 29%
Did you use an energy monitor? 49%
Did you install a powerdown? 63%
Have you replaced light bulbs with low energy bulbs 60%
Have you made improvements to house and other energy measures? 58%

Main outcomes 2009

June 2009 we set up weekly led Health Walks, to promote healthier and greener ways to get about – mainly focussing on those who would benefit from a short walk in company.  These continue today, with the Walk ending at the Church where participants can pop in for a cup of tea and a biscuit.  This is also beneficial in that it supports the Coffee Afternoon held on Wednesdays at St Matthew’s.

September 2009 we held the first Derrington Local Food Festival which was very popular.  Around 200 people attended and were able to meet local producers from in and around the village – with potatoes, soft fruits, eggs, honey, plants and much more available – all from a stone’s throw away. The home grown produce table was packed full of fruit and veg from local people – who then donated their own proudly produced garden goodies for the Grand Auction – there were superb giant cabbages, tomatoes, beans and beetroots, jars of honey, potatoes straight from the ground, long leeks and a delicious  array of plums, apples and – hot chilly peppers!! There was a ‘Sustainable Gardeners’ Question Time’ with a focus on ‘Bees and Bee Keeping’, and why bees are so important.  Many visitors enjoyed having a go at willow weaving, sampled tasty Fairtrade products – and enjoyed the ever popular and delicious refreshments from Derrington WI.

2009 Sept-Dec 54 household energy visits (15% of all homes), helping families save money, improve energy efficiency and lead more sustainable lifestyles (one elderly lady received a refund for £532 as a result of the support she received).

September 2009 we put together a Derrington Local Food Guide which was distributed all round the village.

October to December 2009 we showed a series of films in the Village Hall, focussing on sustainable development and climate change issues. These were:

Thursday 8 October, An Inconvenient Truth (Academy award-winning 2006 documentary featuring former US Vice-President Al Gore. The film charts his crusade to alert the world to the threat posed by global warming and climate change).
Thursday 12 November, The 11th Hour (A look at the global environment and ways to save it, produced in 2007 by Leonardo DiCaprio).
Thursday 10 December, The Age of Stupid (A remarkable and vivid film, bringing to life recent major climate events and exploring were they may lead).

2009-2010: Village Hall Energy Measures: The Village Hall has been the focus of a large chunk of our efforts, working with the Village Hall Committee.  The Village Hall had many problems. Energy systems at the Hall were aged and inefficient, electricity and oil consumption rates were high resulting in excessive fuel costs.  The building lacked effective heating control, flat roof areas were un-insulated, allowing significant heat loss – and were also discoloured and unsightly.  These issues effected the quality of the Village Hall as a community facility and resulted in the need to pass costs on to users – they would also just get worse over time.  So a bid for funding to cover the cost of an Energy Audit was put together submitted to the Building Research Establishment (BRE).  This was successful and during October 2009 we undertook an Energy Audit at the Village Hall.  The report indicated works to do and has guided us in the subsequent practical work/improvements, including the three major projects.  Then – we got very busy applying for the necessary grant funding – from many different pots of money!  We eventually raised approximately £52,000 to undertake measures that included – installation of zoned heating, re-roofing of three flat roof areas and the installation of a 24 panel Solar Photo Voltaic system.  These were installed during October/November 2010 and we held our launch event/celebration event on February 16th 2011.

December 2009 we organised an ‘Adopt an Apple Tree’ event and 40 families collected and planted fruit trees in their gardens – plus we planted an Orchard at Cooper Perry Primary School too, with the help of over 30 parents, pupils, friends and staff to promote the benefits of ‘home grown’ fruit in healthy eating, reducing food miles, producing food for free and the value of English Orchards.