Edinburgh households are getting free home insulation to help them stay warm and cut energy bills this winter, thanks to funding from the Scottish Government. The South Edinburgh free insulation offer provides loft and cavity wall insulation to households who contact the Home Energy Scotland Hotline, or receive a visit from a Home Energy Assessor.

Properties lose more than half their heat through the roof and walls. Insulating not only helps keep a property warm, it could also save households hundreds of pounds per year in energy bills. Loft insulation saves up to £175 a year, while cavity wall insulation saves up to £135 a year. With no costs to worry about, it's an easy way to counter the effects of rising gas and electricity prices.

Homes across Scotland are feeling the benefit already as the scheme is being delivered in areas throughout the country.

Mr Morrison from Buckstone in South Edinburgh was pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy it was to get cavity wall insulation for his home. The installation process was brilliant he said. "I had heard it could cause a big messwith a lot of dust etc. but it wasn't like that at all. The whole thing took about two hours from start to finish. They didn't stop at all not for coffee or anything. It went very smoothly. "When the surveyor came over he made sure I knew it was all free. They called two weeks later to arrange the installation date. I had to change the date and they were great about it". Asked whether he feels a difference in the warmth of the house or has the heating on for less time he says: "We won't know from bills for a while yet since we've only just had it installed but we have definitely felt a difference already. We have a thermostat to control the heating and normally we can hear the central heating kicking in - but that hasn't been happening as often. That was the first sign that the heating wasn't on as much".

Would he recommend getting cavity wall insulation to others? "Previously I was sceptical but the service was great and I felt reassured" he admits. "The surveyor listened to our needs and chose the best type of material to use for the insulation taking into account that we want to build an extension in future. I'd definitely recommend insulating your home having felt a difference straight away".

Aside from being a homeowner or private tenant there are no eligibility criteria to meet the only condition is that the property can take the insulation. Households in participating areas should receive a letter telling them about the scheme and how to take advantage of the offer. They may also receive a call at the door from a Home Energy Assessor or a surveyor from one of the insulation companies working for the scheme. As with all doorstep callers it's advisable to check their ID and make sure they're genuine. Householders can check by calling the Home Energy Scotland Hotline on 0800 512 012. The scheme will run until March 2012 but with another cold winter underway householders are encouraged to take up the offer sooner rather than later to minimise their energy costs during the cold weather.

The Scottish Government is hoping that the expansion of the area-based approach to home insulation will contribute to the climate change agenda and help to tackle fuel poverty a growing concern in the UK. What is the South Edinburgh free insulation scheme? It's a free insulation offer funded by the Scottish Government and overseen by City of Edinburgh Council in partnership with the Energy Saving Scotland advice centre South East. The scheme offers free loft insulation (including 'top-up' insulation) and cavity wall insulation to all properties in selected geographic areas. The scheme is not means-tested in any way; the only condition is that the property must be suitable for the type of insulation available. This is determined by a free no obligation survey.

Why insulate? Home insulation is one of the most cost effective ways to make a home more energy efficient and reduce your fuel bills. Insulating an empty loft can save up to £175 a year* while cavity wall insulation can save up to £135 a year*. These savings will continue year on year and when the work is done for free there's no payback time. There's minimal disruption and the property will feel warmer straight away.

Who is funding this? The Scottish Government has invested £12.5 million for this financial year divided up between Scottish councils to deliver the scheme in proportion with the size of the area's population. The scheme also makes use of funding that's already available through the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) a UK wide scheme that uses money from the energy companies to fund carbon saving measures like insulation.

Why is that a good deal? This is an example of a joined-up approach to reducing carbon emissions tackling fuel poverty and reducing the impact of rising energy costs. Not only does it make sense to pool the funding schemes (for every £1 of government money spent almost twice as much CERT funding is used to supplement the work being done) it makes practical sense too. At a time when fuel costs are rising and people are increasingly concerned about their energy bills being able to offer a solution like this is a great opportunity to engage with householders and support them to take action.

Why act now? CERT funding is available now but it won't be here forever. Now is a good time to cash in on the funding before the current system is changed in 2012. The Energy Saving Trust wants to maximise the positive impact these grants can have by making the most of the funding while it lasts. The Government is serious about tackling the growing issue of fuel poverty in Scotland as well as reducing carbon emissions in line with our 2050 targets. Local Authorities can contribute to these national objectives by supporting free home insulation schemes in their area for as long as possible.