Southampton Healthy Homes: David’s Story

David was given our details by a local heating engineer as his gas combi boiler hadn’t been working for the past two months and he wasn’t able to afford the repairs himself.

The Southampton Healthy Homes advisors visited David to get more information about his situation. David is an older gentleman who lives alone in his own home, he has a low income and suffers from several health conditions.

Whilst looking for funding to repair the boiler, the advisors arranged for the delivery of an electric plug-in radiator to keep him warm and made a referral to Citizens Advice Southampton for support with benefits and debt advice. They also referred him to the council’s Disabled Facilities Grant team who arranged for David to have a stair rail fitted to help him in using the stairs.

Following his application, the local council offered David a grant to repair his broken boiler, and he was very happy with this outcome.

As well as his broken boiler, David was also concerned about his electricity and gas bills as he was finding he was paying too much. The advisors helped him look for a better energy deal, and David decided to switch to a plan that could save him over £400 a year. To top up his savings from switching, the advisors assessed David’s eligibility for the government’s Warm Home Discount scheme and helped him apply for that £140 credit on his winter bill.

If you would like help finding a cheaper energy deal and switching supplier, please call the Southampton Healthy Homes team on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email keepwarm@environmentcentre.com.

Hitting the Cold Spots: Shirley’s Story

Shirley’s friend contacted Hitting the Cold Spots because she had had no heating or hot water for over six months. Shirley is a home owner, in her eighties and has a number of serious health conditions, some of which require her to be able to bathe regularly. The boiler was over 23 years old and her energy company service plan could no longer get parts for it. They quoted for a new boiler but it was several thousand pounds more than she could afford, as she only had a small pension and disability benefits.

Shirley’s Hitting the Cold Spots advisor looked at multiple funding routes but most of these options were either stalled or closed to her because she couldn’t produce a paper trail. With her health conditions and no other help available, Hitting the Cold Spots was able to fully fund the boiler replacement, just in time for the snowy weather.

As well as helping with Shirley’s failed heating and hot water, Hitting the Cold Spots provided emergency heating, energy bill and energy saving advice, signposted Shirley for cavity wall and loft insulation and referred her for additional help in her home. An Occupational Therapist assessed Shirley’s needs and the local council helped her apply for a stair lift and to replace her bath with a walk-in shower.

Through discussions with our advisor, Shirley was also able to piece together some of her late husband’s military background. The local Royal British Legion branch was able to recover his military record, enabling an application to be made to a charity to cover the costs of various home repairs and maintenance.

Shirley acknowledges that things have improved a great deal since Hitting the Cold Spots got involved, saying the results have been excellent and that none of these changes would have happened without our involvement.

“The Hitting the Cold Spots adviser has been wonderful, I would not have been able to get anything done without their help. I would definitely recommend the Hitting the Cold Spots service to others!”

If you or someone you know needs support with staying warm and well, please call the Hitting the Cold Spots team on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email staywarm@environmentcentre.com.

Southampton Healthy Homes: Joyce’s Story

Joyce’s son got in contact with us after being referred by the local council. Joyce’s storage heater in her living room and the element on her hot water cylinder had both broken. We arranged to visit Joyce to see how we could help.

During the first visit we brought Joyce an electric oil-filled radiator so she had some heat in the living room. Joyce is in her late 80s and feels the cold so it was essential she had some heat in the living room, where she spends most of her time. The storage heaters in her flat were very difficult for her to operate and didn’t provide adequate heating for her. Different heating options were discussed and gas central heating was the preferred option for Joyce.

After looking into various grants, a grant offer was made to either replace the storage heater in the lounge with a more efficient and controllable heater and to fix the hot water cylinder, or to investigate the option of gas central heating. The client and her son decided to get some quotes for gas central heating since Joyce felt it would be easier for her to operate. She qualified for an assisted gas connection, which meant her home would be connected to the gas network for free. A combination of grants and a customer contribution then meant Joyce could afford to get gas central heating in her home.

“I have found the new heating to be of great pleasure to me. I was finding it so cold before I had the installation and now I really don’t know myself.”

Due to her financial situation, the advisors also helped Joyce apply for the Warm Home Discount and a discount off her water bills.

If your heating is inadequate or difficult to operate and you would like some help, please call the Environment Centre (tEC) on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email keepwarm@environmentcentre.com to speak to an advisor.

Hitting the Cold Spots: Stacey’s Story

Stacey and her husband are home owners, on a low income, who received Child and Working Tax Credits.  Stacey and one of her five children have asthma, their youngest child is disabled and her husband was signed off work following an accident.

The family’s gas boiler, which was over 10 years old, had failed because rain water had come in through the flue just before Christmas leaving them without heating or hot water through the festive period.  They had two companies out to quote for the work, which was estimated at several thousand pounds. The family had no savings and could not afford any upfront costs.

She was signposted to Hitting the Cold Spots by her local council, who worked together to get the family emergency electric heating, as well as a small grant towards the extra cost of running these portable heaters.

An advisor from Hitting the Cold Spots visited Stacey after Christmas and referred her to a local heating company with access to Energy Company Obligation (ECO) funding. This funding didn’t cover the full cost of the work, and so the remaining shortfall was covered by grants from her local council and Hitting the Cold Spots. The failed boiler and hot water cylinder were replaced, and thermostatic radiator valves fitted.

The advisor continued working with the family to help them clear their energy debt through an energy company charitable trust, to reduce their water bills and to signpost them for additional financial help while her husband recovers from his accident.

Stacey was very clear that none of the improvements to their heating and energy bills would have happened without the Hitting the Cold Spots service, saying that they,

“did not know where to turn – as all others said no”.

If your heating is broken and you need help funding a repair or replacement, please call the Environment Centre (tEC) for advice on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email staywarm@environmentcentre.com.

Southampton Healthy Homes: Mary’s Story

Mary‘s daughter contacted us regarding her mother’s heating system. Mary is in her 80’s, lives alone and had recently suffered from pneumonia. Her gas boiler had broken and the heating engineer had made a temporary fix but it needed to be replaced. Mary was eligible for the national Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme, and the Southampton Healthy Homes advisors looked to support her with any shortfall in the cost of the work.

Despite her eligibility for the ECO scheme, Mary’s application was rejected because a new boiler was incompatible with her current one-pipe heating system. The whole central heating system needed to be replaced instead of just the boiler, something that the national scheme couldn’t help with. Southampton Healthy Homes reassessed her application and offered Mary a grant to cover the majority of the cost of replacing the central heating system, and it was installed just before Christmas.

In addition to the heating system, during the initial home visit, Southampton Healthy Homes advisors noticed that Mary’s single glazed window in the living room had a rotten frame with a hole in it, which was allowing cold air in, and one of the bedroom windows had come out of the frame and needed to be replaced. Southampton Healthy Homes managed to secure funding for the replacement of both single glazed windows with double glazed ones. Mary will now be well insulated from the cold.

These energy efficiency works improved the property’s energy performance from a below-average E rating to a D rating, reducing the estimated annual energy costs of the home by an estimated £300 per year.

Southampton Healthy Homes advisors also helped Mary apply for a discount through her water supplier, reducing her future water bills by 20%.

Mary’s daughter provided this feedback on the project,

“It was a long process from starting to find energy suppliers who would agree to a grant to them ultimately refusing the grant, through to Southampton Healthy Homes coming to the rescue. I must admit that had it not been for the Advisors calling me most Fridays to check on progress, I might well have given up before the end. We are very grateful not only for their approving the grant for both windows and the boiler and new radiators, but for their perseverance and help at each stage of the process, including their list of Buy with Confidence suppliers who have done a great job. Thank you.”

If you have a family member who needs help keeping warm and well, please call the Southampton Healthy Homes team on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email keepwarm@environmentcentre.com for advice and support.

Hitting the Cold Spots: Kate’s Story

Kate contacted us when her central heating boiler was condemned near the beginning of the winter. She had boiler insurance cover but was frustrated to find that it didn’t include boiler replacement.

A Hitting the Cold Spots advisor visited Kate to assess her situation. Kate was just getting by and had significant health conditions that could be life threatening in a cold home. Finding such a large lump sum for a new boiler was out of the question for her.

The advisor provided Kate with two electric heaters as a temporary means of keeping warm while funding was sought to replace the boiler. Because of her situation, Kate was eligible for Energy Company Obligation (ECO) funding, which covered part of the cost. Hitting the Cold Spots was able to award a grant to cover the remaining balance. Kate was soon enjoying a centrally heated home and running hot water.

She said,

“I did not have the money for a new boiler… I daren’t think what I would have done without this support. Cold air has an impact on my illnesses as does stress. Hitting the Cold Spots took away this stress and provided me with a heater for which I can’t say enough how grateful I am. Contacting me when the weather turned particularly cold and asking me if I was ok and coping meant a lot. I thank the advisor and everyone involved in helping me.”

If your health is being affected by living in a cold home, please call the Hitting the Cold Spots team on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email staywarm@environmentcentre.com.

Southampton Healthy Homes: Irene’s Story

Irene called us after a friend gave her our number. Her boiler was installed in 2011 but had been causing her problems ever since. When Irene contacted us, the boiler was leaking water and had to be reset at least 4 times a week. She was very concerned about what would happen if the boiler broke as keeping the home warm for her husband, who is ill, is essential.

One of our Southampton Healthy Homes advisors visited Irene and her husband at home to see how we could help. Our advisor discussed grants with the client for the boiler to be repaired or replaced. Because the boiler had been installed relatively recently, the government-backed Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme couldn’t help, even though Irene and her husband’s financial circumstances met the criteria. Irene was still using the boiler to keep her husband warm but was worried about its safety, so the advisor also set up and left a carbon monoxide alarm for them.

Two heating engineers who visited the client both said that the boiler was beyond economical repair so quoted to replace it. Due to the client’s financial and health circumstances Southampton Healthy Homes managed to secure full funding for the new boiler from her local council.

The clients had feared they would have to have a new boiler soon but said,

it wouldn’t have happened yet due to the cost of a new boiler. The new boiler has given us peace of mind that we are going to have a warm winter without the old boiler going down every day.”

The Southampton Healthy Homes advisor also chatted to Irene about her energy and water bills. As part of the initial visit, the advisor checked if Irene and her husband had a benefits check done recently, which they hadn’t, so Irene contacted Citizens Advice Southampton to ensure that her husband was on the right level of Disability Living Allowance. The advisor also made a referral to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service as there was only one smoke alarm in the property, which was upstairs, Another smoke alarm was fitted for them downstairs, free of charge.

“We are so happy and pleased that there’s help and support out there for us to help us get a grant for a new boiler. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the help and guidance from the Environment Centre. They also referred us to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service for a home visit, and this has meant we’ve got a new smoke alarm and were given useful advice.”

If you have a family member, friend or neighbor who could benefit from our help, please call the Environment Centre (tEC) on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email keepwarm@environmentcentre.com to speak to an advisor.

Hitting the Cold Spots: Rachel’s story

Rachel is an owner occupier who lives in a park home with a mains gas boiler for heating.  Her local Council advised her to contact us when, during her annual service visit by her local gas engineer, she was advised that her boiler had a leak and required replacement.  Rachel was on a low income and was very concerned as she was unable to afford the cost of the work herself.

A Hitting the Cold Spots Advisor visited Rachel to explore her situation further and to talk about possible options to help with funding a replacement boiler.  After an initial visit and assessment, the Advisor completed an application form to apply for funding assistance from an energy supplier scheme which specifically provides assistance to home-owners with particular health problems.  Whilst this application was progressing, Rachel’s boiler stopped working completely.  At that time, the Advisor offered to supply Rachel with an electric oil filled radiator to provide a temporary form of heating.  However, Rachel decided not to have this as a neighbour was able to loan her a portable heater.  The application to help with her replacement boiler costs was successful and this was subsequently fully funded and installed.

The Advisor also assisted Rachel in undertaking a fuel price comparison to help identify whether any further savings could be made on her fuel costs.  At the time, Rachel was on a variable tariff with her fuel supplier and the prices were about to increase again shortly.  Rachel felt very satisfied with the service that she had received from her supplier and was keen to remain with them.  The Advisor provided assistance to Rachel to help her to switch to an alternative tariff with the same supplier, enabling her to fix her fuel prices for the next 18 months.  Rachel now feels much more reassured by the fact that her fuel prices over this period will remain unchanged and that she would be protected from future price increases that may occur in this time.

Rachel was very pleased with the improvement in both the warmth and comfort in her home and said,

“Everything was excellent.  My Advisor was always very sensitive to my worries about heating and getting a new boiler.  They also helped with other worries, concerning my gas and electricity charges.  All of the team were very helpful.”

If you or someone you know is struggling to stay warm and well, please call the Environment Centre (tEC) on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email staywarm@environmentcentre.com to speak to an advisor.

Energy Best Deal training 2018

The Environment Centre (tEC) is helping to deliver ‘Energy Best Deal’ sessions from January to March 2018.

These are free sessions for community groups and for frontline workers and volunteers supporting Southampton residents who have concerns about their energy bills.

These sessions will:

  • Make people aware of the savings that can be made by switching energy tariff or energy company.
  • Provide information about help available for people struggling to pay their gas and electricity bills.
  • Advise people about how to save money by being more energy efficient.

Book your free place on one of these sessions:

  • Monday 29th January 9.30am-11.30am, meeting room at the Environment Centre (14-15 Brunswick Place, Southampton, SO15 2AQ)
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  • Thursday 15th February 2pm-4pm, meeting room at the Environment Centre (14-15 Brunswick Place, Southampton, SO15 2AQ)
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  • Monday 26th March 9.30am-11.30am, meeting room at the Environment Centre (14-15 Brunswick Place, Southampton, SO15 2AQ)

To find out more or to book your free place contact us:

Southampton Healthy Homes: Russell’s Story

Russell and his mum had previously benefited from our advice and support, and an advisor contacted Russell to see if there was anything else we could do to help. Russell hadn’t been able to get central heating in his home so we offered to help him apply for a first time central heating grant. The downstairs of his home was still being heated by expensive-to-run electric underfloor heating and there was no fixed heating upstairs.

A Domestic Energy Assessor visited the property to produce an Energy Performance Certificate, and a Southampton Healthy Homes advisor was there to help fill in the grant application form. This application process showed that Russell qualified for this first time central heating grant. With our support, Russell got quotes from Gas Safe boiler engineers who are registered with the Trading Standard’s Buy With Confidence Scheme.

During the grant application process Russell was diagnosed with cancer so keeping warm was essential to him. Due to Russell’s health and subsequent limited income, the work was completed free of charge for him, using a variety of grants. The new heating has reduced the average estimated spending on energy bills by almost half, according to the Energy Performance Certificate. The heating has also improved the energy rating of the property from a below-average E rating to an above-average C rating.

Russell was also concerned about his electricity bills, as he was having to run additional electric heaters. The advisor suggested Russell apply to an energy company charitable trust to help clear this electricity debt, once the gas central heating was installed.

Russell had also been a victim of attempted burglary in the past so we referred him to the Blue Lamp Trust, which focuses on making people feel secure in their homes, and, as he didn’t have a working smoke alarm, we also referred him to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Speaking of his experience with Southampton Healthy Homes, Russell wrote,

“Fantastic and friendly staff who are very knowledge and extremely caring and helpful with your needs.”

If your heating is inefficient and expensive-to-run, please call the Environment Centre (tEC) for advice on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email keepwarm@environmentcentre.com.