[Some of the people from the organisations involved in this year’s event]
Forgive me looking ahead to November when we are all currently enjoying glorious May weather but, on the subject of warmth, the search is on for energy-efficient homes in B&NES prepared to open their doors to the public that autumnal month.
It’s all part of an event called Green Open Homes which takes place over the weekend of November 4th and 5th.
The Open Homes event will enable visitors to learn how to make their own homes warmer and reduce their bills. In the face of the climate emergency and steep energy bills, the residents of the open homes will share their knowledge of how measures work, which businesses they used, what the process was like, and how much it cost them.
Residents who have made their homes more energy efficient are invited to put forward their homes for the event. A wide range of homes are needed; from large to small properties of different styles and ages, including listed buildings and rental properties. The event can showcase major works such as solar panels, heat pumps, wall insulation and water recycling, but also homes that have had effective low-cost DIY measures, so visitors with a range of budgets and house types can find a property like their own.
Green Open Homes B&NES is being led by Bath & West Community Energy (BWCE) in partnership with Bath & North East Somerset Council, Buro Happold, Bath Preservation Trust and Transition Bath. Volunteers are also needed to help the weekend run smoothly and businesses sponsors are welcomed for the event. Details are on the BWCE website at: https://www.bwce.coop/green-open-homes-bnes/
Green Open Homes B&NES builds on the success of a series of Open Homes events from 2011-14. These events were very well attended, attracting over 700 home visits each time. With the cost of living and energy crisis expected to impact householders again this winter, 2023 is an important year to re-start the event.
“We are delighted to be bringing back Green Open Homes” said Pete Capener, Managing Director of BWCE, a not-for profit community energy enterprise. “BWCE is well-known for its community renewable energy projects, for example with our solar panels on many local schools. Now we want to help people save energy too. With energy prices so high, our event couldn’t come at a better time, and we urge residents and businesses to get involved, as home-openers, volunteers or sponsors. We hope to make this a regular event and expand its reach throughout B&NES and into the Western part of Wiltshire”.
Councillor Sarah Warren, spokesperson on climate emergency for Bath & North East Somerset Liberal Democrat Group, said: “Too many people will again face hard choices this winter with the cost-of-living crisis and seeing how other people are saving money is vital to our work to help tackle fuel poverty. We were a partner in the previous Open Homes events and are pleased to be involved in re-starting this event because we saw how it empowered residents to save energy, which in turn helps us meet our climate emergency commitments.”
Claire Smith, a Partner at Buro Happold, the global engineering firm with a base in Bath, said “We are thrilled to lend support and expertise to the Green Open Homes event. Our engineers are at the forefront of sustainable construction, and as a company we have a clear and ambitious net zero carbon target. Green Open Homes will help us support the community to respond to the energy and climate crisis”.
Alex Sherman, Chief Executive of Bath Preservation Trust, a campaigning architectural heritage charity, said “Having been a partner in the initial Open Homes, this year’s event represents a continuation of our groundbreaking work to help the residents of historic buildings improve their energy performance and sustainability, making homes livable for the future whilst retaining historic features and protecting the unique character of our World Heritage City”.
Philip Haile, a Trustee of Transition Bath, a local environmental charity, said “Transition Bath led the previous Open Homes events and are delighted to be involved again. The existing housing stock produces nearly 40% of the area’s carbon emissions, and the rise in energy bills has left most people thinking about energy efficiency. But we know it can be overwhelming, with differences between house types and conflicting advice. Green Open Homes B&NES will let visitors get their questions answered by people who are further ahead on the journey.”