Cost-cutting energy warden Sandra is named a UK Heat Hero Tuesday 6 September 2016

The tens of thousands of pounds she has helped householders cut from their fuel bills, has led a Caernarfon community energy warden to the House of Commons.

Cost-cutting energy warden Sandra is named a UK Heat Hero

And delighted Sandra Kargin says her trip to Westminster will be: “Like being on the X-Factor.”

Just over two years ago, Sandra was unemployed and admits being in “a bad place” before she was taken on by Grŵp Cynefin housing association, to give energy-saving advice to those on benefits in Gwynedd.

And now her dedication has earned her a Heat Heroes award from the National Energy Action charity.

“I cried when I received the email, saying I had won. Then I took the team out for a meal,” said Sandra.

While it is her work that has earned her the national award, Sandra is also keen to highlight the personal impact of her job with Grŵp Cynefin.

“It has really increased my self-confidence. I feel ten years younger and have even lost weight,” she said.

Sandra has also achieved qualifications since joining Grŵp Cynefin, including a City & Guilds in energy efficiency and energy awareness, plus a GCSE in Welsh.

Sandra, who has a daughter, a son and four-year-old grandson, is passionate about helping people cut their energy bills and, in particular, making them aware of the government’s Warm Home Discount scheme which means that householders on benefits are entitled to a one-off £140 reductions in electricity bills between October and April.

In 2016 alone, Sandra and her team have helped 380 people claim £53,200 savings on the scheme.

She also helps householders cut their bills in a variety of other areas.

“One elderly lady received a demand for £2,000 and was very upset but when we finally sorted it we discovered that she should have been charged only £300.

“Our worst example of wasting energy was a woman who had her central heating on full and all her windows were open to allow her cats in and out. I told her she might as well have been throwing her money away.

“One of my best tips is not to boil so much water. It costs 6p to boil enough water to make a cup of tea but 20 to 30p to boil a kettle-full during the day,” she said.

Sandra is one of 15 Heat Heroes across the UK and will be accompanied by her boss, Grŵp Cynefin employment and training officer Ieuan Davies, on September 7 when she receives her award.

He nominated her, and his submission said: “Sandra went from strength to strength after she became involved in the community energy project which addresses fuel poverty, economic activity and carbon reduction.

“The project provides work placements to people not in work who then work with residents in deprived communities.

“She has now helped mentor three new energy wardens, she has helped advise about 1,200 residents and she even gained third place for TPAS Cymru’s Tenant Of The Year award in 2014.”

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