Hitting the Cold Spots: Dorothy’s Story

Dorothy is a widow in her 90s, who lives in rural Hampshire in a park home. She contacted us, after hearing about Hitting the Cold Spots from a Village Agent, because her boiler was unsafe to use and she was unable to afford a new one.

tEC image_boiler safety warning

As Dorothy lives in a park home and her boiler is fuelled by LPG bottles, it can often be difficult to find funding for heating work through traditional energy efficiency schemes. However, through recently awarded funding for rural communities, the Hitting the Cold Spots service was able to help.

After an initial visit and assessment, the Hitting the Cold Spots Advisor helped Dorothy make an application for rural funding and referral for a grant from SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) because her late husband was in the armed forces for over 25 years. The Advisor also helped Dorothy arrange quotes from Buy with Confidence heating engineers for replacing the boiler.

Both funding applications were successful and therefore Dorothy’s replacement boiler was fully funded and installed in time for the cold weather. She said,

“It would have been a struggle to get the new boiler without your help. It warms up quicker and the hot water comes quicker than with the old boiler.”

If you or someone you know is struggling to stay warm and well this winter, and could benefit from our help, 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.

Working with the Proactive Nursing Service

Southampton Healthy Homes feedback_LC_full

If you or someone you know is struggling to keep warm or pay energy bills, 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: Ray’s Story

tEC image_storage heaterRay found our number from the Hitting the Cold Spots webpage, and gave us a call because his flat was very cold and he and his partner were struggling to stay warm. The electric storage heater they used to heat the flat had broken two years previously and they had been without heating since then. Ray is a pensioner and had recently recovered from cancer; he was already receiving the Warm Home Discount.

A Hitting the Cold Spots Advisor visited Ray to complete an application for funding, and also provided them with an electric blanket. Funding was approved for two new storage heaters, and the Advisor helped Ray get quotes from Buy with Confidence approved electricians, who completed the work.

As well as helping with the heating, the Advisor arranged a visit from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and assisted Ray with an energy supplier price comparison, which showed they could save money by switching.

Ray was really pleased with all of the advice and support:

“Hitting the Cold Spots has really helped. We had no heating for over 2 years. We wouldn’t have had it done without you. The electric blanket was a godsend.

With your help we’ve also changed electric company and saved lots of money. Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service came and fitted smoke alarms.”

If you or someone you know is struggling to stay warm and needs our help, 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.

Southampton Healthy Homes: Christopher’s Story

tEC image_wireless thermostat_SHHChristopher called us after receiving a letter from us about the first-time central heating grant. They were interested in having central heating installed as the home was only being heated by one gas fire and the hot water was heated by an electric immersion heater. Due to Christopher’s health he was not able to work so the household were not able to afford to install central heating.

A Southampton Healthy Homes advisor visited to fill in the grant application form, along with one of tEC’s Domestic Energy Assessors, so an EPC was produced for the property. The EPC recommended replacing the current gas fire with a condensing boiler and central heating system.

The household was awarded funding from the government’s first-time central heating grant and from Southampton Healthy Homes. Along with a contribution from themselves, this meant they could have the central heating installed in their home for the first time.

The new heating system in their home also had a wireless programmer and thermostat so this could be moved from room to room to allow them to be able to control the heating system from the room they were in. In addition to the new heating system and general energy advice, our advisors were also able to refer Christopher to Citizens Advice Southampton for consumer advice.

The central heating changed the energy rating of their home from a F35 to a C74, reducing the estimated annual energy costs of the home (as shown on the EPC) from £1,532 to £599.

“Everything was very quick and painless – someone comes to your house and explains everything and advises on the best and most efficient way to heat your home. They even gave a list of reputable firms to get quotes from, and they were very good. It made a huge difference to us as we wouldn’t have been able to pay for a full gas central heating system at this time without them.”

If you or someone you know is in a similar situation, 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 Winter Launch 2016-17

HTCSAs the weather starts to get colder and clients may be struggling to stay warm and well, we would like to remind support services across Hampshire about the Hitting the Cold Spots service and the help we can offer.

The Hitting the Cold Spots service 2016-17*:

  • Home visits from a Hitting the Cold Spots adviser offering advice and practical support.
  • Support with alternative heating measures (electric oil filled radiators) if household is without heating.
  • Help to access funding, where available, for boiler repairs and replacements. Delivered through trusted ‘Buy With Confidence’ contractors.
  • Access to small grant support to help cope with winter fuel emergencies.
  • Eligibility check for the Warm Home Discount and local energy efficiency schemes.
  • Assistance to switch energy provider or tariff to help save money on household fuel bills.
  • Signposting and referrals to other organisations, such as: benefits and debt advice, home safety visits and healthy living services.

Visit the project webpage for more details on this offer.

Eligibility for the service is assessed on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration tenure type, financial circumstances, ill-health and other household vulnerabilities e.g. age, disability and young children.


Already this year the Hitting the Cold Spots team have been busy working with over 70 eligible households to make essential heating and/or hot water upgrades and to install first time central heating. Hampshire residents have also received advice about tariff switching and have been referred to other services for further help.

We’ve received excellent feedback from clients we’ve recently supported:

HTCS quote3     HTCS quote6

To make a referral to the service you can call Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri 9-5) or email staywarm@environmentcentre.com. We will take further details about the client (please ensure you have permission to share client details) and discuss how we may be able to help. If you think it would be beneficial to your client, we can arrange joint visits, and we can keep you updated on the outcomes of our support.


If you want to find out more about Hitting the Cold Spots, we can also*:

  • Attend team meetings to speak to staff or volunteers about how we can help clients.
  • Train front-line staff on recognising the signs of fuel poverty and the support available to help clients stay warm and well.
  • Visit community events and meetings to give energy advice to clients and take referrals for the service.
  • Provide leaflets for you to promote Hitting the Cold Spots to clients.


Please feel free to circulate this information on to colleagues, clients, friends or family members who you think might benefit from the service.

*Some of the above services are subject to availability and conditions apply.

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Are you eligible for the Warm Home Discount 2016-17

tEC image_save moneyWhat is the Warm Home Discount?

The Warm Home Discount is a scheme providing eligible households with a £140 electricity bill discount for winter 2016-17. This discount is available to credit and pre-payment customers, providing your supplier is part of the scheme and you meet their eligibility criteria. The scheme is open to applications now and it is worth applying early to ensure you get it.

Who is eligible?

There is a Core Group who are automatically eligible and don’t need to apply. These are householders who were receiving Guaranteed Pension Credit on 10th July 2016. If you have been awarded Guaranteed Pension Credit since then you will need to apply for the Warm Home Discount yourself.

If you don’t meet the criteria for the Core Group you may be eligible under the Broader Group and will also need to apply yourself. Eligibility criteria varies slightly between energy suppliers but is usually based on low income, means tested benefits and a vulnerability in the household e.g. disability or child under 5. You can check the individual eligibility criteria with your energy supplier or by clicking the links below.

Which suppliers are part of the scheme?

How to apply?

You need to apply directly with your energy supplier, you can find their contact details through the website links above. Depending on the supplier you can apply online, by phone or by post.

Park Homes Warm Home Discount (edit Dec 2016)

There is a Park Homes scheme now open for applications, for park home residents who meet the eligibility criteria. Apply to Charis Grants either online here or by phone: 03303 80 10 40 (Mon-Fri, 9-5).

If you have any further questions about the Warm Home Discount or would like more advice about reducing your bills and keeping warm you can phone us on Freephone 0800 804 8601.

Kerry’s internship at tEC

tEC image_Intern_KTKerry interned with us for three months over the summer, working alongside our Energy Advisors, on a variety of projects in Southampton and Hampshire.

During her internship Kerry was able to take part in home visits and advice drop-ins, contribute to and deliver communication materials, analyse and map project data, research options for colleagues and clients, as well as day-to-day tasks within the office.

Kerry said,

“My internship at the Environment Centre gave me the opportunity to put the skills I had learnt at university into practice in a real work setting. The team helped me to settle in quickly and were there to answer any questions I had.

Throughout the internship, I had the chance to work on several exciting projects which allowed me to develop my professional skills, as well as learn about energy efficiency and how it can be improved in the home. My internship covered a wide range of tasks, including research projects, providing advice to clients and data analysis, all giving me valuable experience to add to my CV.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at tEC, and would like to thank the team for helping me to settle in and teaching me so many new things. Keep up the fantastic work that you all do!”

We really appreciated Kerry’s hard work, and wish her all the best for the final year of her degree.

Southampton Warmth For All: Project Achievements

tEC image_SWFA drop-in YMCAProject Overview

We have just finished delivering a one year project aimed at reducing fuel poverty in Southampton, and would like to share some of the achievements. The project was funded by the Scottish Power Energy People Trust and it allowed us to continue to deliver our fuel poverty outreach work across Southampton.

Through the project local residents were given support through a variety of settings such as home visits, appointments, events and workshops. This support included:

  • Advice on reducing energy usage at home,
  • Help switching energy tariff or supplier,
  • Dealing with fuel debt,
  • Applying for grants and discounts,
  • Draught proofing (including free materials),
  • Tackling condensation and mould.

Project Highlights

  • Households given face to face support = 797
  • Home visits and appointments = 81 home visits and 50 appointments
  • Events attended = 25 promotional events, 40 drop-ins and 10 workshops
  • Households provided with free energy efficiency measures = 502
  • Total perceived cost savings from energy efficiency measures = £24,285/year
  • Total savings from switching energy provider = £6,080/year
  • Other grants secured for households e.g. Warm Home Discount, ECO, Water Assistance = £22,900
  • Households assisted with fuel debt = 48
  • Referrals made to other organisations for additional support = 147
  • New Home Guides given out = 2,230


From a client attending one of our presentations:

I thought I knew it all, but after I had listened to your presentation at Southampton Mencap Carers Lunch, I realised that I still had a lot to learn. The best bit is that I applied for the Warm Home Discount for my son who is in receipt of DLA, and within a week he was sent a letter stating that his account will be credited with £140 before 31st March 2016. Thank you very much for an interesting and worthwhile presentation.

From an event organiser where we did a drop-in session:

Thank you to you and your colleagues for attending our sessions recently. My colleagues received some good feedback from families, who said the information they received was very helpful.

From a local agency who refers clients to us:

That is fantastic – thank you so much – really helpful as always!

Even though the Southampton Warmth For All project has finished, we can still help households in Southampton (and Hampshire) with these issues. So, if you or someone you know is struggling to keep warm and well, 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: Fiona’s Story

Fiona from Eastleigh called us with concerns about her rising gas costs.  We arranged for one of our advisors to visit to help her to understand her fuel bills and to provide information on savings that could be made through completing an energy price comparison and changing to an alternative fuel tariff.

Fiona had a number of medical conditions which made her more susceptible to feeling the effects of the cold as this had a detrimental effect on the levels of pain that she experienced, together with her ability to undertake many activities of daily living.  It was particularly important to her to keep her home warm.  Following a recent period of prolonged ill health, it had also been necessary for her to have her heating on for longer than normal.  This contributed to her using more gas and experiencing higher costs than she would normally have experienced in this time.

The advisor noticed during the home visit that Fiona’s fuel accounts were based on estimated readings.  Before undertaking the price comparison exercise, it was important to be clear about how much fuel Fiona was actually using.  The advisor read both meters and confirmed this information to her fuel supplier.  Through using this information to compare different tariffs, Fiona learned that she could make significant savings of around £160 over the year by switching to an alternative tariff with the same supplier.  At the same time, she was also able to fix her fuel prices for the next two years.

Fiona now feels much more reassured by the fact that her fuel prices over the next two years would remain unchanged and that she would therefore be protected from future price increases that may occur in this time.

Fiona said,

“I am most grateful for you finding a cheaper tariff.  The advice provided with changing supplier is likely to save me up to around £160 across the year.  I’m so pleased that I’ve now got my fuel tariff settled for the next two years; it’s taken a worry off my mind. 

I was very pleased with the help and attention that I received.  My Advisor was very understanding of both my personal circumstances and my situation.  I’m absolutely delighted; I’m over the moon!”

If you or someone you know would like help with switching tariff or supplier, 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.

Switching supplier

tEC image_save moneySwitching energy supplier saves the average consumer £200 per year. Anyone can switch, whether you pay by bills or pre-payment meter, or are a homeowner or tenant.

If you don’t want to switch, it is still worth asking your supplier if you are on their best tariff, checking your bills are based on actual usage and not estimates and considering changing the way you pay. You can also ask your energy company about the ‘Warm Home Discount’ and ‘Priority Services’ scheme which they offer for households who need a little extra help.

The first step

­It is helpful to have your annual gas or electricity summary statement to hand as this will give you a more accurate comparison. This summary will include details of your current supplier, tariff, payment method, unit rate, standing charge and how much you use per year. These sections will be useful for comparison with other energy suppliers and to see how much you could save from switching. If you don’t know who your suppliers are you can call 0870 608 1524 for gas and 0345 026 2554 (Option 4) for electricity.

Tariff Information

Energy tariffs are made up of the unit rate and the standing charge. The unit rate is what you pay for each bit of electricity or gas you use, and the standing charge is a form of ‘rent’ that you pay to have the energy brought to your home. The comparison websites take all of this into consideration to give you an overall price.

Economy 7 or 10 tariffs give cheaper rates overnight and are often the best option for people with electric heating and hot water. However, you need a special meter and wiring to benefit from these tariffs.

A fixed tariff may be more expensive than a variable tariff at first but will protect you against future price increases, for as long as your contract lasts. Paying by direct debit can save you money, as will online accounts, dual fuel payments and avoiding pre-payment meters.

Comparing suppliers and tariffs

The easiest way to compare suppliers and tariffs is to use comparison websites. Below is a list of Ofgem accredited energy comparison sites, which offer an independent, unbiased and accessible way to view the different suppliers (just click on the name to go to their website). These organisations can also offer advice by telephone.

Then, simply use the website to enter your details, and you will get a list of suppliers and tariffs you can switch to and how much you will save by doing that. You can then refine your search to look for extra features, such as paper bills, no exit fees or green energy.

Final Step

Once you have chosen a supplier you want to switch to, contact them or go through the comparison site and they will sort out the rest of the process for you. You will be asked to give meter readings to the new supplier, so make sure you know where your meters are and how to read them.

Switching may take a couple of weeks, but you will not lose your energy supply during this time. If you have previously received the Warm Home Discount, do check if the new supplier is able to offer the scheme under the same criteria.

If you owe any money to the old supplier you will need to settle this first, or transfer the debt, and if you are in credit you should ask them to return it. You can get help with reclaiming credit through the My Energy Credit website or helpline 03707377770.

If you require further assistance with switching to a cheaper tariff or supplier, we can offer support and advice, please call our Freephone on 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri 9-5).