Advice on grants for insulation and other home energy improvements

I’m afraid there is no simple answer to the question – “what insulation and other home energy grants are available?”  It depends on where you live, the age and condition of the house you presently are in, your circumstances, and the time you ask the question because the offers made by the various utility companies come and go.

Luckily help is at hand in the shape of the Energy Savings Trust.  You can find out what grants are available to you in two ways.  One is through this page on their website:

The other is by ringing 0800 512 012 and talking to an advisor.

Either way you have to go through a questionnaire before they can come up with the offers available to you.  The questions are in the following sections:

  • Describe your present house
  • What grants and offers are you interested in?
  • What is your household?
  • Is anyone in household on benefits?

I have tried the service for myself and for someone else and was impressed both times.  One bit of government which seems to work well!

The EST website gives the following information on the service they offer.

“Our database contains details of hundreds of energy saving grants and discounts, including those from the government and energy suppliers. By entering your details over the next pages you’ll be able to find out which ones are right for you and how to apply. Our advisers can also help you identify the best grants and discounts for you, so if you’d prefer to, give them a ring on 0800 512 012 during office hours.

Our database includes grants from a range of providers including government, energy suppliers, retailers and installers. Energy Saving Trust tries to ensure that all installers listed are members of the National Insulation Association (NIA). However, it is unable to offer any other recommendation or endorsement of any of the listed installers or the products they install. Please visit to find out more about the checks carried out by the NIA on its members. Similarly, the Energy Saving Trust is also unable to guarantee price and “lead times” shown in the database and you should ensure that the written agreement with your chosen installer confirms this information.”

Derek Smith

Opportunities for volunteering with Transition Ashtead

Can you help us in the Home Energy group?  We have three project proposals and have obtained funding from Surrey County Council to meet most, if not all, of the costs involved.  We now just need some volunteers to help us carry them out as widely as possible.  The projects are described below.  Please get in touch if you think you can help with any of these, or if you know anyone who may be interested either as a volunteer or as a recipient of our services.  You can contact us here

1.  Helping Ashtead residents get home energy grants. 

Many people do not realise they are eligible for grants for things like insulation and a new boiler.  We want to increase the take-up of these grants by Ashtead residents.   We have developed a one-page questionnaire that asks all the questions that determine a household’s eligibility for grants.  We need volunteers to visit people in their homes, help them complete the questionnaire, and then ring the Energy Savings Trust to find out the grants available.  The volunteer should also offer to help explain the grant offers to the resident and, if appropriate, help them get the work ordered and completed properly.  We anticipate that many of the residents we contact will be elderly and will appreciate this extra assistance. 

2.  Energy Surveyors 

We have been discussing with Mole Valley District Council the possibility of training volunteers to carry out home energy surveys.  The surveyors will then be able to carry out surveys in people’s homes, identify the most desirable improvements, and give an indication of the costs and payback periods. 

3.  Practical draught proofing

We are looking for people who enjoy DIY to install draught-proofing products in homes in Ashtead.  We have identified the best products to use and will organise training to make sure everyone is confident in using them.  We will use some of our funds to buy an initial stock of products.  When that is used up, we will ask the householder to pay for the materials used.

More from the Home Energy Group

The meeting on 7 April I have just written about is intended to be the first activity in a plan of activities throughout the year that will promote the importance of reducing domestic energy consumption and carbon emissions to Ashtead residents.

We plan to have three public events – the first on 7 April to initiate interest, the second in June as a main event to have speakers and workshop/exhibitions on relevant locally available technology.  The third event is to have a speaker and equipment display on home renewable energy options.

On top of the public events we intend to do the following.

  • Set up a library of locally available energy efficiency equipment – some to show and some to loan e.g. draught meters, LED and low energy light bulbs, power meters so people can see and try them out.
  • Get a small number of people trained in (a) draught proofing methodologies so they can train others to create a pool of people who can do this and (b) advising people on the grants available for domestic carbon reduction work and if necessary helping people complete the grant application forms.   We plan to carry this out as part of the Ashtead churches Act10n initiative in 8-12 July, and so the main beneficiaries should be needy and vulnerable people.
  • Research local suppliers of energy efficiency and renewable energy suppliers and identify those with real expertise and good reputations and create a preferred supplier list or get them added to the approved trade lists such as Checkatrade.

All this will need money and so we applied to Surrey County Council’s new Climate Change Fund for the money we think we’ll need.  I’m pleased to say that we’ve been successful and so we should now have the money to do all we want this year.

Derek Smith

Home Energy Group Event on 7 April

The Transition Ashtead Home Energy group has been busy organizing its first public meeting.  It will be at the Peace Memorial Hall on Wednesday 7 April.  Below is an article we have sent to the Leatherhead Advertiser about it.  The main aim is to give people sensible practical advice on how to energy saving in the home, so we’re hoping it will have a wide appeal and get a good audience.  If one or two there ended up joining our energy group, that would be a bonus – no harm hoping.

Derek Smith



 Are you worried about next winter’s heating bills?  Transition Ashtead is holding a meeting at the Peace Memorial Hall on Wednesday 7 April which will give you advice and ideas on how to save energy and reduce your bills.  Derek Smith from Transition Ashtead says “With 27% of all energy in the UK consumed in domestic housing and 85% of our existing housing stock set to still be with us in 2050, we all need to act now to reduce our carbon footprint, and reduce our energy bills.  Our meeting starts at 8 pm with a presentation by Russell Smith who will explain how this can be done.   His company Parity Projects offers the full range of services required to reduce the environmental impact of existing buildings and won the DIY category in the Observer Ethical Awards 2008.  He also won Building Magazine’s 2007 Award for Sustainable Refurbishment.  The Observer Award judges said: “Russell and his company Parity Projects stood out from all the other nominations for their new way of engaging with the public, giving them the tools to reduce their house’s carbon footprint in an innovative and inspiring way.”

So come and find out how to green your house from a recognised expert.

After a break for tea and cakes, people will have the opportunity to ask Russell questions or look at:

  • Demonstration of domestic power monitors
  • Demonstration of thermal draught detector
  • Display of energy saving products available locally
  • Advice on government grants and the new feed-in tariffs
  • Information on domestic combined heat and power units.

 The meeting starts at 8 pm.  For more information, ring Derek on 01372-378914 or visit the Transition Ashtead website at

Transition Ashtead Food Group

The Transition Ashtead Food Group has been launched and has held its first meeting .  We decided that our initial aim is to promote food growing in Ashtead.  We will encourage organic methods, but not try to insist on this.  In due course we may extend our activities to promote selling of locally grown food.

We agreed to look at the following ideas:

  • Establish a community garden
  • Set up a garden sharing scheme (garden sharing involves linking people with gardens they cannot manage with people who want to garden but need more land)
  • Find local experts who are willing to help get started with food growing, or advise when gardening problems arise
  • Encourage wild life by measures like:
    • let grass grow long
    • plant trees
    • plant hedges
    • find sites for bee hives

If you’d like to get involved in the group or want to know more, we’d love to hear from you.  You can either email us using the ‘Contact Us’ link on the Transition Ashtead home page or give me a ring on 01372-378914.

Derek Smith

Transition Ashtead Home Energy Group

Transition Ashtead is about to start a home energy group.  The first meeting of the group will be on Thursday 14 January.  Before we have met we cannot really say what we intend to do, but informally we have mentioned the following possible activities.

  • Share success and failures.  We could encourage people to put their own energy projects on our website and maybe have open days in their homes.  (We have already had an offer to view a local ground source heat pump installation.)
  • Bulk buy insulation materials
  • Advise on good local suppliers and contractors
  • Help people to use the grants available
  • Encourage people to measure their personal carbon footprint

If you’d like to get involved in the group or want to know more, we’d love to hear from you.  You can either email us using the ‘Contact Us’ link on the Transition Ashtead home page or give me a ring on 01372-378914.

Derek Smith

Can Ashtead Feed Itself?


We are hoping that our meeting on 30 November in the Peace Memorial Hall will help us start a Transition Ashtead food group.  This will aim to encourage more food growing in Ashtead and so the question of whether Ashtead can ever be completely self-sufficient is food is a good one.

The Surrey Organic Gardening Group has organised a meeting on Friday 27 November with the title “Can Sutton Feed Itself”.  At least two of us from Transition Ashtead are going in the hope that it will help answer the same question for Ashtead.  There is a star speaker – Patrick Holden, Director of the Soil Association, and the UK’s best known spokesman for organic farming and growing.  The meeting is at Milton Hall, Cooper Crescent, off Nightingale Rd Carshalton  SM5 2DL at 7:30pm on Fri 27 November.

If you would like to join us and want to either get or offer a lift, please give me a ring on 01372-378914.

Surrey Organic Gardening Group (SOGG) is a collection of people who enjoy many aspects of gardens and gardening.  They hold regular monthly meetings, often with guest speakers, and also arrange group visits to public gardens and other places of interest.   Their web site is

Derek Smith