Lewes Energy Fair

Open Energy Saving House Weekend

Started Summer 2009
Contact: Julia Waterlow

First run by the TTL Energy Group in 2009, this project was loosely based on the Open House event run in Brighton the previous year.  The idea was to inspire members of the public to make energy saving and other environmentally sustainable changes to their own homes by seeing what practical steps other people have taken in their homes. The project is about people learning from the experience of others and making positive changes to reduce their environmental footprint sometimes at very little cost.  Visitors could talk to people face to face about the difficulties, the costs and the benefits and see how the changes work in practice.

The TTL Energy Group had 10 houses in Lewes and surrounding villages open to the public over a weekend in June, the event being titled Open Eco House Weekend.  In 2010 there were 13 houses, open again over a weekend in June, the event renamed to Open Energy Saving House Weekend to avoid the Eco label and hopefully make it more widely appealing.  Between them the houses demonstrated examples of insulation, draughtproofing, renewable energy, water saving, natural and recycled materials, composting, waste disposal, energy monitoring, eco paints and other environmentally friendly products used in households.

The event entailed finding households willing to take part, collating all the information about the houses, getting brochures printed, arranging publicity and visiting each house before and after.  Lewes District Council gave great support both years in paying for the brochures to be produced and also in 2009 helping pay for some publicity in local papers.  By a stroke of luck, the 2009 event was covered live on the Sunday by the BBC Politics show.

In terms of visitors, it is roughly estimated that some 200 people visited the houses in 2009 and some 250 people visited in 2010.  Between about 60-75% of visitors came from Lewes over the two years, the remainder mainly coming from the surrounding villages and Brighton.  Feedback from visitors was extremely positive and many of the householders are willing to take part again. It is hoped to run a similar event in 2011 if people can be found to help organise the event.

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