New community led support to cut carbon emissions in homes in Essex and Kent

Community Energy South (CES) announces a new pilot project to trial a community-led approach to increase home energy efficiency upgrades. As part of the project, CES in partnership with the Greater South East Net Zero Hub (GSENZH/The Hub) will be training community groups to increase the uptake of the Home Upgrade Grant Phase 2 (HUG2). The HUG2 grant provides funding to those on a lower income to improve home energy efficiency, through measures such as insulation and improved heating controls, and to put in place low carbon technologies such as air-source heat pumps and solar panels.

The HUG2 grant is a big opportunity to make vast improvements in reducing carbon emissions in homes throughout the country and to make significant and much needed reductions in energy bills for those that are most in need of help during the cost-of-living crisis. Many of these people are considered ‘hard to reach’ and often need support to access the grant. Until now, the take-up of the grant has relied primarily on promotion by local authorities. This project will look at how support can be provided directly from community groups made up of local residents. The trial will be undertaken in Essex and Kent with the support of the County Councils.

Alongside the support for HUG2 uptake, the Hub is also providing funding to support new programmes that look at how we can reduce domestic carbon emissions, especially in areas that are off the gas-grid and rely on carbon intensive heating fuels such as oil. Funds will be provided to develop the CommuniPower Project, run by Community Energy South, which is looking at community wide solutions to reduce the carbon emissions from off-gas grid dwellings. Funds will also be provided directly to community groups to increase the uptake of other new ways to reduce carbon emissions in homes.

Esmé Donghi, Executive Director at CES said,

“We are delighted to be working with the Hub to develop new approaches to cutting carbon emissions from our homes. We have a huge task ahead of us to decarbonize our domestic properties, that account for 40% of the UK’s carbon emissions. This is especially difficult in low-income households that cannot afford to make home improvements and are struggling to pay energy bills. The problem gets more challenging in rural areas that rely on expensive, carbon intensive fuels to heat homes.”

Maxine Narburgh, Regional Head at GSENZH said,

“The effective delivery of the HUG2 scheme relies on us contacting the appropriate residents, who are often hard to reach and need the most assistance to access support grants. This innovative community-led solution from Community Energy South is a fresh and welcomed approach to aid delivery of the scheme, supporting Local Authorities and providing residents with the tools and knowledge to help make a difference in their local community to reduce carbon emissions.”

Cllr Peter Schwier, Climate Czar, Cabinet Member for Climate, Environment, Waste Reduction and Recycling said,

“Essex County Council supports Community Energy South’s innovative approach to promoting Home Upgrade Grants (HUG2) to hard to reach residents. By empowering local residents and community groups, we’re not only reducing carbon footprints but also providing much-needed support to those facing energy cost challenges. This project aligns perfectly with our mission to make energy efficiency and low carbon solutions accessible to all, taking us one step closer to our national net-zero target.

It is now widely recognised by central and local government that we must empower and enable communities to reduce carbon emissions, if we are to reach our national net zero target. Our new project will contribute to the development community led solutions that look to make energy efficiency and low carbon solutions more accessible and affordable for everyday people from within their local community.”

You can find out more about the HUG2 Grant at Home Upgrade Grant: Phase 2 (closed to applications) – GOV.UK

For more information from Community Energy South please email