Energy-saving Hawick 'slow burn' pilot project hailed a success

An energy-saving pilot project which saw 12 families and individuals in Hawick supplied with cost-saving slow cookers could be expanded across the Borders.

By Paul Kelly
Saturday, 12th February 2022, 2:50 pm
Burnfoot Community Hub was involved in the pilot project.
Burnfoot Community Hub was involved in the pilot project.

With a massive spike in energy bills anticipated this Spring the 'Low and Slow' project may well prove a godsend.

It is a joint initiative between Scottish Borders Council, Home Energy Scotland, Changeworks, FairShare, the NHS's Joint Health Improvement Team, Burnfoot Community Hub and supermarket giant Morrisons.

The six-week pilot has addressed issues around financial inclusion, food security and lowering energy bills and saw all participants supplied with slow cookers, which use gentle heat over a long period of time.

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At a meeting of Eildon Area Partnership last night, Thursday, February 10, council officer Kenny Harrow outlined the aims and benefits of the project.

He said: "Slow cookers cost on average 2.5p an hour, as opposed to a conventional oven which is 40p an hour. So in terms of increasing energy prices it is much more cost-effective to have a slow cooker.

"The participants were able to use surplus food that was supplied by FairShare and Morrisons also offered support in terms of food.

"Menus were provided by the Joint Health Improvement Team through which families were provided healthy nutritional recipes to cook at home and they were put on the slow cookers, which resulted in families having nutritional meals and being able to use any surplus food.

"The link with Home Energy Scotland and Changeworks meant all 12 participants on the project had a visit in their homes to assess if there were any methods to reduce their energy bills, whether that was draft excluders etc and to look at more cost-effective energy, which is very topical now.

"That pilot project is just coming to an end and evaluation is taking place. I think it has been well-received. The individuals have obviously saved money in terms of access to food but also by reducing energy costs. We're really keen to expand that pilot project into other localities."

Councillor Elaine Thornton-Nicol is an enthusiastic advocate of the project, saying: "This is something I am very, very passionate about. Forty-nine pence is what it would cost you for a big slow cooker full of lentil soup, that is including your electricity costs.

"Homemade lentil soup and you'll get seven times more for 49p than you would for 49p for one can. So this is a project we really need to support and get the word out there and that we move towards not only supporting people with food security but also about how they use electricity because it is not going to be affordable very shortly."

Debby Gillet from Scottish Borders Housing Association said if a project tool-kit resource was provided it could be made available to the association's tenants.