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.

Are you eligible for the Warm Home Discount 2017-18?

What is the Warm Home Discount?

The Warm Home Discount is a scheme providing eligible households with a £140 electricity bill discount for winter 2017-18. 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 9th July 2017. If you decide to switch energy supplier after this date and before you receive the Warm Home Discount, you should expect it from your previous supplier. However, if you have been awarded Guaranteed Pension Credit after the 9th of July 2017 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. If you apply but then decide to switch before you receive the Warm Home Discount, you will need to reapply with your new supplier.

Which suppliers are part of the scheme?

* The energy companies indicated with the asterisk offer the Warm Home Discount to the Core Group only.

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

The Warm Home Discount is also available this winter to park home residents who meet the eligibility criteria, through the Park Homes Warm Home Discount Scheme with Charis Grants. You can apply online or call 0330 380 1040.

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.

Southampton Healthy Homes: Bob’s Story

Bob called us after he received a letter about a grant for installing first time central heating. His home was heated by electric, gas and coal heaters in different rooms, and the hot water was provided via a gas multi-point heater.

An energy assessment of the property showed the home was currently rated as a low F, far below the average energy efficiency of most homes. A Southampton Healthy Homes advisor also visited and provided energy advice and filled in the grant application form with Bob.

Bob’s financial and family circumstances meant he qualified for financial help installing central heating in his home, enabling him to have central heating in his home for the first time. Two grants and a customer contribution allowed this work to be installed by a local heating engineer of Bob’s choice.

The installation of the gas central heating system meant the efficiency rating of the home increased to high D, and the estimated running costs for the lighting, heating and hot water reduced by almost £1000 per year.

“I had a new central heating installation undertaken, having previously used on-demand hot water and separate electric, gas or coal heating in each room. I am very happy with the help, advice and support I received from the Environment Centre regarding financial support, selecting installers, as well as the installation itself. The staff have been professional, courteous, flexible and helpful throughout. They have helped make what was initially quite a daunting process a lot easier than I thought it would be. Although I have yet to use the radiators for any length of time, the hot water system appears to be more efficient, and I expect the same will be true of the central heating.”

Although the Central Heating Fund is no longer available, there may still be help on offer for first-time central heating. Contact the Southampton Healthy Homes team for advice on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email keepwarm@environmentcentre.com.

Southampton Healthy Homes: Archie’s Story

A family friend contacted us while Karen’s home was being renovated to make the property wheelchair friendly and suitable for her young son Archie’s needs. The home had storage heaters and an electric immersion cylinder for hot water but the storage heaters had to be removed during the renovation process.

A Southampton Healthy Homes advisor visited Karen at the property to find out more and to fill in a grant application form. Karen and her partner both had to give up work to care for their young son, who became paralysed from the neck down.

Due to the family’s circumstances, they were able to access a grant to allow them to get the property connected to the gas mains. A combination of other grants, along with a small customer contribution, allowed gas central heating to be installed in the property. The renovation work to the property meant that the heating work had to be done in conjunction with the renovation works.

The renovations to the property, including the gas central heating, has enabled the young family to move into a property that will meet all of their needs.

The installation of the gas central heating improved the energy performance of the property from an E rating to a C rating. The Energy Performance Certificate also estimates an annual savings of £435 on their energy bills, which includes heating, lighting and hot water.

“We would like to say one big thank you for your help and support for this project. Thank you once again on behalf of Archie”.

If you know someone who would benefit from Southampton Healthy Homes help and support, please call the team on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email keepwarm@environmentcentre.com.

Southampton Healthy Homes: George’s story

George’s daughter found our details online as their boiler was leaking water and, after paying out £150 for an installer to fix it previously, they couldn’t afford to pay to get an engineer out again. They’d also been told that if the boiler leaks again it wouldn’t be fixable.

A Southampton Healthy Homes advisor arranged to visit to fill in an application form for a grant through the Southampton Healthy Homes project as the household’s benefits did not qualify them for assistance under the national ECO grant scheme. During the initial phone call the advisor checked they had some heating in the property, as due to George’s health conditions it is essential he keeps warm. The clients were also given details of heating engineers registered with Gas Safe and Trading Standard’s Buy With Confidence scheme, so they could start getting quotes as soon as possible. As the family were still switching the boiler on every so often the advisor set up a carbon monoxide alarm for them too during the first visit.

tEC image_hot waterDue to the family’s circumstances and George’s health conditions, including COPD and a crumbling spine, it was agreed to fully fund the boiler replacement for them. The heating engineers were able to install within two weeks of the grant being awarded, because of the urgency of the situation. Replacing the boiler has benefited George’s health and he said,

“Being able to bathe on a daily basis is now a norm, rather than only if the old boiler decided to work. All the family benefit from this now. I myself need to have a hot bath at least twice daily to ease back and joint pains.”

As well as applying for a grant to help replace the boiler, the advisor also discussed the condensation and damp problem they had in the bathroom, and how they can remove and prevent this happening. During the home visit the family mentioned they were concerned about security in their home, as they had been a victim of crime, so a referral was made to the Blue Lamp Trust who can help with improving the security in someone’s home. In addition, as they only had one smoke alarm upstairs and not one downstairs, a referral was made to the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service for them to visit the household.

If you or someone you know is in a similar situation, please call the Southampton Healthy Homes team on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email keepwarm@environmentcentre.com to speak to an advisor.