There’s probably few better ways of promoting the benefits of energy saving to the widest number of people than appointing local energy champions – project ambassadors to help push the energy agenda in the community. It can be a very rewarding role – so what’s involved and what are the benefits?
Who Makes An Energy Champion?
Your local energy champion doesn’t have to be professionally involved in energy, although if any of your group happen to be photovoltaic installers or work for green energy suppliers, they’d probably make a good choice! Local councillors can also make very useful champions – with an immediate “in” to decision makers in the local authority, they can be particularly valuable in this role and their position can help improve wider political support for energy saving and climate change initiatives.
However, champions can be anyone – all it really takes is commitment and enthusiasm. It’s more about the desire to further the whole energy issue rather than having any particular skill or great knowledge and in any case, much of the know-how that champions need they can probably pick up along the way.
What Can Be Done?
Although what energy champions can achieve largely depends on the nature of the community itself and the scope and intent of the original project, there are some general points which apply to most. One important aspect of the role is to act as a point of first contact – especially for anyone wanting to know more about the scheme or what they can do to improve their own domestic energy use.
Local champions can also play a big part in raising awareness of energy issues, both within the community itself and to those outside. Dependent on the nature of the scheme, this can range from reminding local clubs and societies to turn off lights and switch off unused appliances to wider presentations to bigger audiences regarding the environmental, economic and social benefits to be had from energy saving. Energy champions can also make valuable contributions to press campaigns – the “human interest” side often being irresistible to local papers – and to attempts to win sponsorship or support.
They can also be invaluable to schools, local businesses and householders who want to do their bit to reduce their carbon footprint, but are simply at a loss to know where to start. With so much advice around – and some of it seemingly conflicting – having a friendly local face to turn to for help can make a big difference.
What Are The Benefits?
Some of the benefits of having energy champions are fairly self-evident – things such as community support, increased local awareness of energy issues and improved energy savings – while others are less obvious.
By stimulating debate and greater thought about the issues, the champion can often encourage people to look to see for themselves where further improvements can be made and what could be done to achieve even more energy saving. In some communities, this can lead to significant social benefits too; by improving energy efficiency and highlighting the opportunities that exist to save energy, energy champions can often play a largely unrecognised role in tackling fuel poverty.
In addition, in areas where there are a number of groups actively working to promote energy-related projects, there is a major potential for the cross-fertilisation of ideas between their respective energy champions, which clearly works to everyone’s benefit.
As the idea of energy-saving becomes an increasingly established and accepted part of local life, the job of the energy champion will gradually change, evolving to meet the new needs as they develop within the community. Although some of the activities that the champions used to undertake may be taken over in time by other local people as they become more comfortable and confident to do so, it’s always going to be a good idea to have someone around to keep the ball rolling.
Signing up to being a local energy champion isn’t for everyone, but for those individuals who do accept the challenge, it’s a rewarding role to play, at so many different levels.