What Happens on a LEAP Energy Advice Call?

Lorraine Gumbs, Project Development Manager at LEAP (Local Energy Advice Partnership) breaks down what to expect on a LEAP Energy Advice call.

LEAP is an energy advice service. It’s there to help and support people that are struggling with their bills and want to be more energy efficient, or find out how they can save on their energy, and help improve the environment.

How does the free telephone advice service help customers with benefits and financial advice?

It’s really very much tailored to what the resident actually wants. Our advisor will ask a series of questions, for example, how do they heat their home? Have they got loft and cavity wall insulation? They will also give them some tips and advice on how they can reduce their energy bills.

And that’s very much tailored to how that resident lives in their home. So it’s all the stuff that we all know about, like turning your thermostat down, washing your clothes at 30 degrees, those kinds of sort of tips and advice. We check if people are eligible for any benefits that they’re entitled to, so we can do a referral for an income maximisation check.

So on the advice call, they will ask them; have you got any loft insulation? Have you got any cavity wall insulation? How do you heat your home? That will give us an idea of whether or not they might need to have some, what we call “larger measures” done for their home. They will ask them; do you have low energy light bulbs? Do you have things like radiator panels? Because we can supply and post them out to them, so they can fit them for themselves.

We will also have a chat with them about their water, because water is a big thing as well as their energy. So we will see if they’re eligible for the water social tariff.

They will also check to see if it’s a vulnerable home and whether or not they’re eligible for the priority services register. If you’ve got people that are vulnerable (it could be over 60s, children under 5, people with long term health conditions) they can be signed up with their energy supplier. So if the power ever goes out, they know that they can get extra help and support.

What kind of problems related to heating, damp, and mould might affect energy efficiency and how do you address these?

We do get an awful lot of queries where people say I’ve got damp, mould or condensation in my home and, to be honest, the two main reasons for that is either you’re underheating your home or you’re trying to dry your clothes within the home.

If your radiators have got TRVs on, just turn those down, so you’ve got a low heat in all the other rooms because that will help with any sort of damp or mould issues.

But the key thing is people dry their clothes indoors; don’t dry your clothes on radiators. If you’ve got no other way of drying your clothes when the weather’s really awful, dry your clothes on an airer in one room, open the window and close the door.

When you’re trying to dry your clothes, where is all that water going to go? Where’s all that damp going to go? It’s going to go to the coldest places, which are your windows and your walls. And that’s where you start getting condensation, and then you get damp, and then you get mould.

How can cavity wall or loft insulation contribute to energy efficiency?

If you think about when you’re going out, and it’s cold outside, what do you do?

You put a hat on, you put a scarf on, and you put a coat on. And that’s exactly the same thing that you need to do with your home. If you want to keep that heat in, you’ve got to put something in the loft to keep the heat in, and you’ve got to put something in the walls to keep the heat in. You actually lose around 30% of your heat through the walls, and 25% goes through your loft. So if you’re able to actually insulate that, you’re saving an awful lot of energy that way because you’re not losing that excess energy. That heat is not going out through your walls or your loft.

How does your team tailor advice to the individual needs of each household?

It’s really about having a chat with that resident. There’s no point in saying to somebody, “turn your thermostat down” if it’s already on 20. So we tailor the advice to how that person lives in the home, the family and their needs.

I always give an example from my household. I’ve got grown up kids at home, and my bugbear is leaving lights on and having showers that last half an hour! So I tell the kids, “turn the lights off,” “you only need five minutes in the shower,” “you don’t need half an hour with your music blaring, five minutes is long enough!”

Or try switching devices off; all these electronic devices, your phone, your laptops. Just switch it all off, don’t leave it all on standby. For an older person, the advice might be, “you’ve got your heating on at 30 degrees, does it really need to be that? You can turn it down a little bit, put a jumper on, put a cardigan on,” something like that.

Or, if you’re washing clothes, wash at 30 degrees. Always wash when you’ve got a full load. Try not to use the tumble dryer. Do you really need to cook in the oven? Use an air fryer instead.

We don’t want people to start worrying about, “I can’t afford to do this, I can’t afford to do that.” You need to be comfortable. You also need to know that you can afford to do it as well, and not waste the money that you’re actually spending on your energy.

How long does a call take and what do I need to prepare?

A call will probably take around 45 minutes.

Have a recent bill to hand. We can have a look at that bill and see what tariff you’re on, have a look to see if you’ve got estimated readings, because if you haven’t got a smart metre, if you’ve got estimated readings, your bills could be wrong.

So it could mean that you’re entitled to a nice chunk of money back, or it could mean that you’re underpaying. That also gives us an idea of how much energy you’re using. We have a rough idea of a typical two bed or three bed house and how much energy you should be using.

If we suddenly think, “oh, you’ve got a lot of units,” you start thinking. What is it that you’ve got that’s causing you to use so much energy?

How do I book an energy advice call?

Really simple, go to our website, applyforleap.org.uk, we have a button that says Apply Now.

You can fill out an application form and then somebody from the team will give you a call and book an appointment with you.