Hitting the Cold Spots: Peter’s story

tEC image_HTCS client boilerPeter contacted us for advice when his 35 year old central heating boiler broke down, right at the beginning of the winter. We helped him find a trusted local engineer who came out and got the boiler going again. However, unfortunately he then had to condemn the boiler for safety reasons. Peter was concerned about the cost of a new boiler, and very worried about the effect that spending the winter in the cold would have on his health.

A Hitting the Cold Spots advisor visited Peter to talk him through the different options for funding and help him arrange two competitive quotes for a replacement boiler. The advisor identified that as well as asking for help from the Hitting the Cold Spots fund, he would also be eligible for help from the Gas Safe Charity and from his local council.

Grants were agreed by all three organisations, and Peter was able to make a contribution himself to make up the total cost. Ultimately, a brand new efficient boiler was installed in his home, and Peter is warm and cosy again.

Peter said,

“It’s been very helpful to have someone behind you who knows the way through what is a very difficult time. It’s not just about the money, it’s about the support and guidance that you get.”

 

You knew from the outset what the going rate for a boiler was, but I had no idea. My mum previously paid a lot more for her new boiler.

 

“Although the process took some time, coming out the other end with a heating system that works well has given me back enthusiasm for other areas of the house that need attention.”

With the new boiler installed, our advisor pointed Peter in the direction of energy price comparison websites, and he now plans to shop around for a new electricity and gas deal, which could save him money. He has also had help from the local council advisor to find a contractor who can complete some other repairs to his home. Peter now feels like he is back in control of his living conditions, and says that his spirits have been lifted.

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.

Southampton Healthy Homes: Jaqueline’s story

tEC image_SHH client rads thermostatJacqueline emailed us after she’d seen an article about the grants for central heating on Southampton City Council’s website. Her home was being heated by a gas fire in the living room and gas room heaters, which they didn’t use, in the bedrooms. The client and her son were worried about using the heaters in the bedrooms. Due to Jacqueline’s health she wasn’t able to carry on working as planned and save for installing central heating and double-glazed windows.

A Southampton Healthy Homes advisor and a Domestic Energy Assessor visited Jacqueline at home, to produce an EPC and to fill in a grant application form. The EPC recommended changing the room heaters to a condensing boiler.

Through a combination of grants, and a customer contribution, the client was able to have full gas central heating installed in the property, providing them with heating throughout the whole property that they were happy to use.

During the conversations between our advisor and Jacqueline it became evident that the front and backdoors to the property were draughty so draught-proofing strips were provided to the client, free of charge, to go under these doors. Radiator panels were also provided free of charge to go behind the radiators.

A referral was also made by our advisor to Citizens Advice Southampton for a benefits check to ensure she and her son were in receipt of the correct benefits.

“The advisors came to my home and guided me step by step through the process of applying for help on this scheme. They also helped me through the quotation process and securing a contractor to do the works.

 

The help and advice given at all stages of the process made the whole thing easy, stress-free and simple.”

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: David’s story

tEC image_CHF client radiatorDavid was referred to the Central Heating Fund by his local council who had been supporting him with making some much needed improvements to his home. Amongst the problems in the home was the heating – or lack of heating. With only two old gas heaters on the ground floor, and no heating at all upstairs, David’s home was very cold.

David is registered disabled and suffers from conditions that cause him chronic pain. The prospect of another cold winter in his home was understandably daunting. However, with his only income being his disability benefits, and with extra commitments to meet, it would not have been possible for David to save up for a new heating system himself.

Our Advisor visited David to complete an assessment, and this showed he was eligible for a grant towards the cost of a gas central heating system.  A quote was arranged from a local heating firm, the grant value was calculated, and David agreed to pay a contribution to make up the full cost of the work.

David’s house now has a fully functioning gas central heating system, and he can have comfortable all-round warmth at the press of a button. Not only is he more comfortable in his home, but he has already noticed that he is putting less money into his gas meter each week.

He now plans to shop around for a better gas and electricity tariff, and is also making enquiries about having Smart Meters installed so that he can take even more control over his fuel spend.

David said,

 “I’m a high functioning autistic person and I am disabled and have to use sticks and a wheelchair. I didn’t know I could get help. I’ve struggled for years with two gas fires, every winter I was just living downstairs. My council introduced me to tEC and it all went from there.

 

You’ve changed my life! From having nothing now the whole house is warm. It’s helping my arthritis and pain. Everyone has been so nice, I’ve felt I’ve been asked and not told. I was given good advice, feel informed and am genuinely so grateful for the help. It’s nice not to sit here shivering.

 

The heating engineers were fantastic. They were really friendly, gave me plenty of lead time and explained everything. They told me what they would do each day, when they would make noise, kept me informed, gave me choices and cleaned up after themselves. As someone with autism this is really important to me to keep my stress levels down and I wasn’t stressed at all.

 

What I thought was going to be a super stressful experience was actually very pleasant!”

If you know someone who could benefit from Hitting the Cold Spots help, please call the Environment Centre (tEC) on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) or email staywarm@environmentcentre.com.

Southampton Healthy Homes: Terry’s story

tEC image_SHH client new boilerTerry was referred to us by another local agency. Terry lives in a private rented flat and the only available heating in the property was an electric wall fire in the living room. Terry receives Employment and Support Allowance due to ill health and as such he is at home a lot.

During the winter Terry found it very difficult to keep warm and did not use the electric fire that much due to the expense of running it.

A home visit was booked for our Southampton Healthy Homes advisors to go out and visit Terry at home. Following this visit we spoke with Terry’s landlady who was also keen to improve the heating in the flat. A grant was awarded from Southampton Healthy Homes to help with the cost of installing an energy efficient combination boiler – providing heating and hot water to the flat. We were able to help Terry with each step of the process from arranging the gas connection to getting a gas meter installed.

The new boiler means that now the whole flat can be heated to a comfortable temperature and there is hot water on tap. Terry is really pleased with the new boiler and has found that the cost of the gas to run the boiler has been low.

“If it was not for you I would not have had the work done. I would not have any heating still and would still be sitting in the freezing cold. Thank you for helping me get it. Since getting the heating my chest has been getting clearer.”

In addition to helping Terry get heating in his flat we also got Terry registered with his energy company so we could then help Terry apply for the Warm Home Discount which he is eligible for but had not heard of. We also helped Terry liaise with Private Sector Housing regarding some other issues.

If you know someone 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.

Fuel Poverty Awareness Day 2017

Today is national Fuel Poverty Awareness Day; an opportunity to focus on the issues faced by those struggling to keep warm and pay their bills, and to highlight the work being done to try and alleviate these problems.

Across Southampton and Hampshire there are an estimated 50,000 households living in fuel poverty*. Fuel poverty is caused by a combination of low household income, inefficient housing and high energy costs. In addition, the majority of these households have young children, an older person or someone with a long-term illness or disability living there**. Fuel poverty can affect the mental and physical health of those living in cold homes and have serious impacts on their quality of life.

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We have been working on fuel poverty projects since 2009, here are a few highlights from our work over the past year:

Southampton

  • Provided advice to 1,116 Southampton residents at events or over the phone
  • Supported 413 households through home visits or office appointments, between us and our partners Citizens Advice Southampton
  • Funded 64 energy efficiency home improvements, at a value of £235,152, including heating upgrades, insulation, glazing and damp treatment
  • Distributed 1,337 energy efficiency materials, including draught-proofing and light-bulbs
  • Promoted the project to 448 patients attending flu clinics
  • Trained 172 front-line staff and volunteers in recognising the signs of fuel poverty
  • Helped around 900 households with crisis support, through SCRATCH and SCM Basics Bank

Hampshire

  • Spoken to 450 Hampshire residents on the Freephone advice line
  • Visited 152 households to provide hand-holding support with heating issues
  • Accessed funding for 82 heating improvement measures, at a value of £316,768, including boiler repairs and replacements and first time central heating
  • Trained 79 staff in recognising the signs of fuel poverty

 

Adam Goulden, our Chief Executive says,

“Everyone should be able to live in a warm and comfortable home that does not negatively affect their health and wellbeing. It’s great that we’ve been able to help so many vulnerable residents over the past year, but there is still lots to do to make this a reality for all fuel poor households. We will continue to work with our partners to support those households most in need.”

If you would like to find out more about our projects, or know someone who could benefit from our help, you can call us on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri 9-5).

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*DECC (2014) Sub-regional fuel poverty data: low income high costs indicator **NEA (2016) Fuel Poverty Statistics

Hitting the Cold Spots: Stephanie’s Story

tEC image_client storage heaterStephanie contacted us after hearing about the Central Heating Fund project following her attendance at an event organised by her local Council.  She is an owner occupier who lives in a house with an open fire, one electric storage heater and an electric instantaneous water heater, which she found cold particularly in the winter. Stephanie is on a low income and she struggled to keep her home warm and was unable to afford the cost of installing a fixed heating system in her home.  The Hitting the Cold Spots Advisor supplied two electric oil filled radiators to help heat the home, and was also able to secure a small grant to assist with the running cost of these.

The Advisor visited Stephanie to complete a Central Heating Fund application.  However, it was established that her property was too far from the nearest gas main to be able to connect her home to the mains gas supply.  A site survey was subsequently arranged to investigate the feasibility of using LPG as an alternative fuel source for a central heating system.  Due to there being a limited amount of outside storage space, the survey identified that it was also not feasible to continue with this option.

The Advisor therefore assisted Stephanie in arranging quotes from local Buy with Confidence electricians for the cost of installing new electric storage heaters in her property.  Stephanie’s application for Hitting the Cold Spots funding was approved, which meant that new storage heaters could be installed in her home.

Stephanie was very happy with the improvement in both the warmth and comfort in her home and said,

“The difference is amazing and the warmth and dryness in my home is wonderful! I feel better in myself, especially in the morning and 100% fitter. It makes so much difference to my well-being. Thank you so much Hitting the Cold Spots, for being so hands on and concerned for me and the fact that it was so cold here.

With no proper heating due to my financial circumstances, I had been feeling quite concerned about the winter weather coming yet again. It made me depressed – the constant feeling of cold and worry about switching on my portable electric heaters due to the cost. The fact that someone cared about whether I was cold or not was wonderful.”

If you or someone you know is struggling to stay warm and well this winter, 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: Mary’s story

tEC image_radiator windowMary‘s daughter contacted us regarding her mother’s heating system. Mary is in her 80’s, living alone and had recently suffered from pneumonia. Her gas boiler had broken down and the heating engineer had made a temporary fix but it needed to be replaced. Mary was eligible for the national ECO (Energy Company Obligation) scheme, due to receiving pension credit and the Southampton Healthy Homes Advisors were looking to support her with any shortfall between the ECO grant and the full cost of the work.

Despite her eligibility for the ECO scheme, Mary’s application was eventually rejected due to the incompatibility of a new boiler with her current one-pipe heating system. This required the whole central heating system 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 for replacing the entire central heating system, and this 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, meaning that Mary will now be well insulated from the cold.

These energy efficiency works improved the property’s energy rating from an E45 to a D59, reducing the estimated annual energy costs of the home from £1,166 to £858, as shown on the EPC.

Southampton Healthy Homes Advisors also helped Mary apply for a discount through Southern Water, 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, 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: Lindsey’s story

Lindsey contacted us after receiving our letter about the Central Heating Fund. She wanted to find out what could be done to transform her cold house into a warm and cosy home. Lindsey suffers from health conditions, and is on a low income. We arranged to visit her at home to complete an assessment, which confirmed she was eligible for help from the fund.

Her cottage is in a beautiful rural location, but too far from the mains gas network to be connected. After talking through different options with us, Lindsey decided she would like an LPG fuelled central heating system to replace the aging storage heaters and temperamental hot water system.

“We never thought we could have central heating because we couldn’t get mains gas. We hadn’t thought of LPG before. Finding out about this made us realise that central heating could be possible.”

We helped Lindsey to find quotes for the installation of a central heating system from local ‘Buy With Confidence’ contractors, and once she had decided on a contractor she liked, we were able to confirm the level of the grant. Lindsey only had to pay a small contribution to the cost of the work herself.

Next, we helped Lindsey to make arrangements for a bulk LPG tank to be installed, and liaised with the local planning authority to get the necessary permission for this.

The date for the installation came around and everything went smoothly and according to plan. The contractors were on site for just 3 days, installing a high quality combi-boiler, radiators, and programmable room thermostat, and connecting the whole system up to the new LPG tank.

“The contractors were very thoughtful and sensitive, and they gave us lots of advice about the system and where the radiators could go.”

The installation was completed at the end of the summer before the weather turned cold, and Lindsey was delighted:

“It feels like Christmas! I’ve never been given a grant before. It feels strange to be given something like this, but it is great!

 

We could never afford new heating before so we were putting up with really old heaters, having to go from room to room to turn the controls and guessing what the weather would be like the next day so we knew what to set them at. I always worried about the cost and about setting them too high. We always had cold pockets around the house.

 

The hot water system only ever provided enough for one bath per day, and wasn’t even connected to the kitchen. I boiled loads of kettles for washing up…I’m sure I will save money now. The new, instant hot water is very convenient. The new radiators look much nicer, and there are no cold spots around the house.

 

This winter will show how much it will affect my health. In the cold my aches and pains from fibromyalgia are much worse, so having a warm home will really help. The winter will be a revelation for us!”

If you or someone you know 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.

tEC image_LPG tank

Southampton Healthy Homes: Emily’s story

tEC image_radiator_MumEmily contacted us as her home was damp and she had electric storage heaters which were very expensive to run and didn’t adequately heat the home. She and her five year old son also suffered from coughs, which she had been told were linked to the damp and cold.

We visited to see if we could help with installing gas central heating, which would also help reduce her electricity bills of £160/month. During our initial visit with a Southampton Healthy Homes Advisor and Energy Assessor options were discussed for the heating, an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) was produced and grant application form filled in.

Grants were subsequently awarded to the client via the Central Heating Fund and Southampton Healthy Homes. These grants, and a contribution from Emily, led to gas being connected to the property and the installation of a gas central heating system.

The work done to the property has increased its energy rating from an E to a C. Also, the projected annual energy costs for the home have reduced from an estimated £1,013 per year to an estimated £611 per year, according to the EPC.

“This has been a fantastic project. Every step has been explained to me throughout and I’ve had lots of advice to help me reduce costs around the home. The process has been quick and hassle free and all parties have been extremely helpful and friendly. My home is now well heated and hopefully my costs will be reduced as a result.”

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: Ylva’s story

Ylva contacted us after hearing about the Central Heating Fund project. She is a private tenant who lives in a flat with solid uninsulated walls, electric storage heaters and hot water immersion, which she found cold particularly in the winter. Ylva is on a low income due to health difficulties and she struggled to afford her electrical heating, which is more expensive than gas.

The Hitting the Cold Spots Advisor visited Ylva to complete a Central Heating Fund application, and also gave her guidance on how to use Economy 7 storage heaters most effectively in the meantime. As part of the application, the Advisor assisted Ylva in arranging quotes from local Buy with Confidence heating engineers, as well as liaising with her letting agent and landlord.

Ylva’s application for the Central Heating Fund was approved, which together with a contribution towards the cost from her landlord, meant that the new mains gas central heating system could be installed. The Advisor provided further support on switching to a single rate electricity meter from Economy 7 and with understanding her new gas and electricity bills.

The installation of gas central heating improved the EPC rating of the property from an F33 with estimated energy costs of £1196 per year to a D59 with estimated energy costs of £683 per year. Ylva was very happy with the improvement in comfort and convenience of gas central heating and said,

“The Advisor was very supportive and reassuring, explaining the whole process and co-ordinating between myself, the Lettings Agent and the heating engineers. They helped me process all the information connected with all aspects of the change in heating and hot water systems, including tariffs. This was especially appreciated as living with anxiety these things can be challenging.

Since installing the central heating my quality of life has much improved; I’m more relaxed and comfortable moving around and between rooms, it’s more convenient with hot water on tap and more comfortable and convenient with ambient warmth throughout.”

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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.