Citizen Action Monitor

Transition Streets program promotes local energy solutions, cuts emissions, saves money, builds friendships

“I dipped my toe in and found I became green aware by accident.” —Transition Streets participant

No 470 Posted by fw, May 7, 2012

“Transition Streets helps neighbours get together to save money on bills, heat their homes more cheaply and make friends. It’s also a way to live more sustainably by helping our community reduce its carbon footprint.”

If you’re a civic-minded person who’s concerned about climate change and wants to make a difference in your local community, then the Transition Streets program may be worth a look.

Watch this 8:20-minute video to find out what folks in Totnes, UK had to say about the program. Neighbours share their experience of participating in a program designed to cut their bills, warm their homes and fit solar-PV to their roofs.

Additional program information, including links to online resources, and a full transcript follow the video.

Transition Streets, uploaded by TransitionTownTotnes, September 30, 2010


  • Transition Streets makes it easier for neighbours to: cut energy, water and fuel bills; cut their carbon footprint; take positive actions on climate change and environment issues that concern or affect them; and get to know the neighbours while having a rich and enjoyable social experience. Most people find it’s easier to make changes with a little help from their friends.
  • In 2010 when the video was released, there was a total of 28 Transition Streets groups running in Totnes (pop. 23,258) and Dartington (pop. 1,917). Each of the 290 participating households saved an average of £600 a year and each stopped an estimated 1.2 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the atmosphere.
  • Typically groups get together about seven times over an average of four months, usually taking turns to host the gatherings in one another’s homes.
  • Transition Street has prepared an easy-to-understand workbook suggesting lots of simple ways to change how we use energy, water, food, packaging and transport.
  • Many groups come up with an ever-growing range of projects and activities, from community orchards to local film clubs and more. Just follow the yellow-brick road of your imagination.
  • IMPORTANT – A new project package, to be known as Streets-Wise, is scheduled for released early in 2012. The new package will be available for a fee to cover development, production and distribution costs.
  • For non-UK, non-Transition Initiative groups — If you are not a Transition Initiative and would like a copy of the workbook — without additional support — (see the first section of the Totnes workbook to give you an idea of how it all works). The cost is £10 for an electronic copy (download pdf) or £20 for a 73 page print version including postage. Contact for a copy.
  • Transition Streets (previously known as Transition Together) is a winner of the 2011 Ashden Awards. Ashden promotes local sustainable energy and a shift to a low carbon economy bringing green jobs, energy security, lower fuel bills and reduced fuel poverty.


Liz Waterson, Copland Meadows group, Totnes — My husband and I really laugh because really we’re the last people that you would think of as green champions. Someone who’s trying to do something in the community I’ll support it. I dipped my toe in and found I became green aware by accident. So you don’t have to be a real keen environmentalist to make a difference.

Laurel Ellis, Walk the Talk group, Follaton – I didn’t know what to expect really. I thought it would be a bit, you know, boring. I thought we’d have to plod through something and that the whole point was to get the panels on your roof. So my expectation wasn’t very high. I thought I’d find it really boring. It’s been totally the opposite. It’s been brilliant. We’ve all started to get to know each other. We’ve all started doing different things with each other, for each other, which I think has been fantastic. You know, it’s just become much more than talking about energy. It’s not at all dull. It’s great. I really look forward to coming.

Ruth Brooks, Mansbridge Road group, Bridgetown – We’ve had a laugh. Every time we’ve met we’ve enjoyed it.

Sue Hard, Mansbridge Road group, Bridgetown – Yes, it’s been fun. It’s not all serious, serious. We’ve learned a lot of things from each other but we also do have fun times, don’t we.

Karen Evans, Walk the Talk group, Follaton — It’s been very special for me recently because I have been quote ill and several members of the group were lovely. They came and walked Sonny for me.

Jo Rota, Walk the Talk Group, Follaton — We go to peering in the window all the time and seeing if she was alright. Just knowing that there were several of us walking past and just keeping an eye out that she was okay.

Sonje Hibbert, Admiral Mitchells Orchard group, Totnes – It’s just a great support network. I wouldn’t have done it on my own. I wouldn’t have known how to. I wouldn’t have felt confident.

Sue Hard, Mansbridge Road group, Bridgetown – I think that most groups that have taken part in the Transition Streets have all noticed the social elements as well as the benefits from being in the group.

Karen Evans, Walk the Talk group, Follaton — You get a folder with lots of big writing, lots of colour and pictures and lots of interesting information.

Sue Hard, Mansbridge Road group, Bridgetown – It was something to learn from, you know. What could I be doing that I’m not doing at the moment? Am I missing something out?

Sonje Hibbert, Admiral Mitchells Orchard group, Totnes – I think some things you don’t really want to look at. You’d rather not look at. There’s a bit of a tendency to be in denial about some things. You know, electricity bills and what we need to keep our bills lower.

Jenny Wilks, Walk the Talk group, Follaton – Some of it has definitely been learning like knowing where switches are and how thermostats work and how certain things operate that I thought I knew but didn’t. But some of it’s just more commitment. Like instead of thinking I really must get a compost bin one day, actually thinking well I’d better get it be the next meeting actually, and then doing it. And I’m still thinking well I must get a water butt one day but I’m much more likely to do it having been shown how to fit them and having seen them in action next door.

Laurel Ellis, Walk the Talk group, Follaton – You know, the growing of the vegetables is great. We have all got a garden of some sort. But it’s confidence, you know. And if you can see one person doing it you think, well okay I’ll have a go. And then you get more confident.

Andy Coldrey, Mansbridge Road group, Bridgetown – We’ve got our water metered because other members in the group had theirs metered and they were explaining how much it saved, so we’ve actually just had our meter installed just the other day. So hopefully we’ll be halving our water bill roughly, which is great.

Sue Hard, Mansbridge Road group, Bridgetown – And it’s interesting to know that you can get help with cavity wall insulation and loft insulation, not over 70, as most leaflets tell you, but over 60 because otherwise I’d of had quite a long way to wait. But now, luckily I’ve had it done so that was something I hadn’t anticipated but it’s happened and I’m delighted with it. I’m hoping that the biggest saving will be the cavity wall and the loft insulation. We will see with next winter’s bill hopefully.

Ruth Brooks, Mansbridge Road group, Bridgetown – Well I think the biggest change I will make will be having the photovoltaic panels on my roof, which I hope I’m in line for providing I can get a full grant and a loan. So I’m hoping for that, and that will cost me very little because the loan actually…the repayments on the feed-in tariff actually will pay more or less for the loan.

Sonje Hibbert, Admiral Mitchells Orchard group, Totnes – I’m hoping to find out how much it’s going to cost to get the PV panels  put up on the roof and what I need to do to get there

Mark Bloomfield, installer — To start with we’ll have a look at the roof, basically check the condition of the roof. If we feel that the condition of the roof isn’t going to last longer than the system we’d obviously advise to have it re-roofed. Also, another key aspect of the roof is the size of the roof and shading as well. So we’re looking for basically a shade-free area to generate as much electricity as possible.

Liz Waterson, Copland Meadows group, Totnes – Having the solar PV on the roof I’ve noticed that either my electricity meter is going backwards or even static even when I’m using equipment during the day. So, we’re quite excited about that. We started off just making small changes and gradually, bit-by-bit, we’ve become more environment aware and been able to make a huge change now having solar PV, which we wouldn’t have done when we first started.

Sonje Hibbert, Admiral Mitchells Orchard group, Totnes – It does open your eyes up, which I don’t think is a bad thing today. We all need to keep our bills down.

Andy Coldrey, Mansbridge Road group, Bridgetown – I think we probably will go on actually meeting on a regular basis because if nothing else than from the point of view of the social side, we get on really well, we have a little natter and a chat and obviously we can keep finding out other bits of information as how people are getting on. I think Ruth’s talking about getting solar panels. Well we can find out how she’s getting on with that.

Ruth Brooks, Mansbridge Road group, Bridgetown – All the support we’ve had all the time from the Transition Street movement as a backup, I think this the strength. People do find all this kind of stuff really hard to do on their own.

Sue Hard, Mansbridge Road group, Bridgetown – It’s knowing the right contacts, who to contact first. Mary did chase up the information from the work that I’ve had done. So it’s certainly worth doing. If you can get a group together it really is worth it.

Laurel Ellis, Walk the Talk group, Follaton – It’s really nice to feel other people are doing it with you. I think anybody who is the least bit worried about joining a group, I just think they’ll love it. I’d say, do it.

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