Our Argyll and Bute-based Home Energy and Partnership Liaison Officer Brian Barker reports on his short but epic trips last month to the islands of Jura and Tiree to provide in-home advice:

I made three home visits to customers: two on Tiree and one on Jura. All three properties were G rated for energy efficiency, my ‘worst’ week since I started in terms of energy efficiency standards. They are a typical example of the condition of housing in remote areas and how difficult it is to improve their energy efficiency because of difficulties with access and costs of materials.

I flew to Tiree – avoiding 10 hours of travel time by ferry which also allowed me more time to make the visits and avoid an overnight stay. The properties were a 1920s concrete house – built to a price rather than a standard (as the owner described it to me) – and an old church going through conversion. The plane popped in to Coll airport en route. 

I hired a boat to get to Jura to visit an off-grid property. This avoided around 12 hours of travel – which would have taken 2 days by public transport! 

The types of visits and places I end up are pretty remote and wild with plenty of wildlife, including white tailed sea eagles. There have even been instances of wind turbines disappearing in winter gales. This environment, stunning though it is, offers daily challenges and additional costs, meaning people are more likely to be in fuel poverty.

People off-grid often face transport issues: if you can’t get diesel delivered to top up your generator, you need to decant and transport the diesel yourself in 50 litre cans, 500 litres at a time, from a point that can be miles from home. 

So, the folk that we’re visiting are the ones that really need our help and support. For them, because of their remote location, everything is more expensive and harder to get to. Having a service that comes out to them can make a real difference to their lives.

I need to make sure advice is right for each customer. I look at all sorts of solutions that can be adopted, helping them work out which combination is best for them. There’s no magic formula, it’s a complicated puzzle and it’s my job to help them figure out the best combination of energy solutions for their home.


If you, or someone you know, would like energy efficiency advice or a renewables home visit call the Home Energy Scotland advice centre on 0808 808 2282.