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)

  • Thursday 15th February 2pm-4pm, meeting room at the Environment Centre (14-15 Brunswick Place, Southampton, SO15 2AQ)

  • 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

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

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

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 to speak to an advisor.

Hitting the Cold Spots: William’s story

William and his son have lived in their home on the outskirts of a small rural town in Hampshire for more than forty years. He is retired and his son is unable to work due to ill health. Since suffering a stroke eighteen months ago William has found it difficult to keep on top of things at home and increasingly has had to rely on his son to manage the household affairs.

The house has an old central heating system which until recently was powered by a solid fuel stove with a back boiler. The stove itself had rusted through and was no longer safe to use, and chopping firewood and carrying heavy sacks of coal was becoming problematic for them. With no heating, the house got very cold in the winter:

 “We once noted the temperature in the living room was 5˚C and it felt even colder up the stairs!”

Realising they needed some help, they approached their local authority for advice, and were then put in touch with Hitting the Cold Spots. When our advisor went out to visit they told her that what they ideally wanted was a gas boiler to replace the solid fuel stove.

“Hitting the Cold Spots listened to what we wanted and didn’t just tell us what we had to have. They are aware of people’s different needs.”

A bit of background research showed that a mains gas pipeline was located in the road outside William’s home, and a successful application to the ‘Help to Heat’ scheme meant they could have their home connected to the mains gas free of charge.

“Having the advisor as the coordinator was helpful to keep things moving. We wouldn’t have known where to start, especially with the gas connection. We didn’t know we could get the connection for free.”

William’s son approached local Buy With Confidence heating engineers for advice and quotes. After talking through various options they selected a contractor who could install the system they wanted. Hitting the Cold Spots awarded a grant towards the work, and they were able to pay the remainder of the cost from their limited savings.

With their new boiler installed they now have an efficiently functioning central heating and hot water system, which they can easily control with their timer and thermostat.

“Without the financial help from Hitting the Cold Spots we could never have had it done. We would have faced cold winters for the foreseeable future.

The heating engineers were really good, they answered all our questions and concerns and we can’t fault them. They did a very thorough job. It was disruptive for a few days, but I think when next winter comes we’ll know it was worth it.”

If you or someone you know is in a similar situation, please call the Hitting the Cold Spots team on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email to speak to an advisor.

Southampton Healthy Homes: John’s story

John was given our details by a local heating engineer. He contacted us as their hot water heater had broken and was not repairable. The home was heated by electric heating, which wasn’t very economical for the young family to adequately heat their home.

An Energy Performance Certificate was produced for the property; this recommended changing the heating to a condensing gas boiler and radiator system.

John’s ill health means he is currently not working and so is in receipt of means tested benefits. Due to the household circumstances, a combination of grants and a customer contribution meant that this young family were able to have full gas central heating installed in their home.

tEC image_ radiator childrens roomThe installation of the gas central heating meant the energy efficiency rating of their home went from F38 to C70 (based on the Energy Performance Certificate). The Energy Performance Certificate also showed estimated annual energy savings of approximately £590 per year.

John was really happy with the work and said,

“Helpful advice and a great experience from start to finish. We were surprised that it was able to be completed so quickly and are so happy we have hot water and an efficient heating system. A big thank you to everyone involved.”

Though 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

Hitting the Cold Spots: Wendy’s story

Wendy found out about the Central Heating Fund through a neighbour and decided to give us a call. She rents her home and gets on well with her landlady, but unfortunately the landlady was unable to invest in improving the heating in the home. That meant that Wendy was having to manage with two gas fires for heating, and an expensive electric immersion heater for her hot water.

Our assessment showed that Wendy was entitled to help through our scheme, and so with our help the landlady found a quote from a ‘Buy With Confidence’ heating engineer. The grant funding reduced the cost of the work so that the landlady was able to go ahead with the installation of a modern gas central heating system.

With heating in every room and hot water on demand, Wendy and her dog Roly are now enjoying their home even more. Wendy said,

“I am very pleased. The company were very good. The new heating and hot water will really change things for me. I only had two fires, now I’ll have heat in every room. I had an immersion which was expensive. I’m feeling the difference in my bills already!”

Though the Central Heating Fund is no longer available, there may still be help on offer for first-time central heating. Contact us for advice on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or by email

Southampton Healthy Homes: Rose’s story

tEC image_boiler ratingRose’s granddaughter was the first one to make contact with us via our Facebook page. She explained that her grandmother Rose’s boiler had broken down and they had previously tried to access boiler grants but were told it would still cost £1500 which was not affordable to Rose as she only receives a small pension topped up by pension credit.

After trying unsuccessfully to access grants from the energy companies Rose had given up trying to get help thinking that she would always have the broken boiler. Rose used a couple of halogen heaters to try and keep warm but this did little to take the chill off during cold weather. The Southampton Healthy Homes Advisors went out to visit Rose at home and discovered she had been without heating and hot water for 18 months.

Through Southampton Healthy Homes (SHH) we were able to install a brand new fully funded energy efficient condensing boiler providing Rose with heating and hot water again. Rose explained,

“I was without heating for about a year and a half after my boiler broke down. When the Advisors came out from SHH I never thought they would be able to help. I had been let down by the energy companies who could not help and then when SHH got involved everything happened so quickly.”

Rose was overjoyed when the new boiler went in; she suffers with depression and arthritis and explained she had been feeling much better in herself since getting the new boiler. Rose told us,

“I felt a miracle had happened having my heating back. I have a condition affecting my joints and the cold made it worse, now I have the heating back I feel much better. I know I’m 76 but I felt 106 when the house was so cold, as I was stiff with cold”

Rose’s granddaughter was also really pleased with the help from Southampton Healthy Homes and said,

“You’re all amazing! I am so glad I found your company through Facebook. We tried many other places to get funding for my nans broken boiler and nobody could help. She was without heating for a few years. Thanks to you she can now live comfortably with heating.”

If you would like to find out more about the Southampton Healthy Homes project, see our website or call the Environment Centre (tEC) on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) and email