Monday, 2 April 2012

Canton Carbon Cutters: save money while saving the planet

Cardiff residents use government funds to generate energy savings.

by Ngalula Beatrice Kabutakapua

Some proud people from Cardiff are using government funds to demonstrate their fellow citizens that saving money and energy is possible. One year ago the Canton Carbon Cutters volunteers joined forces and created a group to raise awareness on the opportunity of reducing the carbon footprint by installing loft and wall insulation.

United Kingdom generates 552,3 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year, as shown by the West Wales Eco Centre. In 2008 the country produced more than 5000 tetra joule of heat by using coal, oil and gas – 47% of the total energy produced in the country. The International Energy Agency says almost half of the production has been employed for residential.

Cardiff, awarded in 2009 for its sustainability efforts, is also the most populated city in Wales. Its yearly carbon emission correspond to 6,5% of the UK. However, a percentage of this energy, used to heat houses, is dispersed because of the lack of a proper insulation. The Welsh Assembly Government has decided to replace a quarter of Welsh houses by 2050 to build more sustainable dwellings. But the Canton Carbon Cutters (CCC) decided to work locally in the Canton community.

Roger Phillips first organized the CCC in 2009 with a group of people as concerned with climate change as he was. The volunteers first received training about energy saving in private houses from the House Energy Service association (HES). Then Environment Wales gave them a grant. The organisation is a National Assembly initiative aiming to protect and improve the environment.

First step of their action plan was questioning people. Volunteers of the CCC distributed surveys via mail to 500 households in Canton. They went back to the same locations in one week time to discuss the survey with the residents and ask whether they ever considered insulating their lofts and walls. In Wales as in the rest of the UK, older people, citizens living on benefits, private tenants, and home owners have the state paying partially or fully for cavity, wall and loft insulation, which usually costs between £100 and £300 (€120-€350).

Mr. Phillips says: “It’s easy to convince people about loft insulation because you don’t have to think about anything related to climate change. They just realise [it] is an energy and money saver.” 

Below and above, children participate in "Put your hat on Canton." Photos by Canton Carbon Cutters.   

Children are also a big part of the CCC project. Local schools were involved in 2010 “Put your hat on Canton”, a publicity campaign that included a poster competition for schools.

“We are working on a wider strategy,” tells Mr. Phillips. “We approach general discussions about climate change and resources. We have been concentrating on insulation but we talk about other issues in an informal way. ”

The CCC are high flyers as they now aim to create a hydro micro-generation scheme to use the water of the river Ely – passing through Canton, to produce clean energy and enough income to fund other sustainable projects.

More Information:
Household Energy Service
Canton Carbon Cutters
Cardiff Transition
Environment Wales
Energy Saving Trust
Chapter Arts Centre

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