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 www.environmentcentre.com/projects/healthy-homes or call the Environment Centre (tEC) on Freephone 0800 804 8601 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) and email keepwarm@environmentcentre.com.

Hitting the Cold Spots: Sarah’s story

tEC image_storage heater loungeSarah’s local council contacted us in the middle of the winter following concerns about the heating situation in her home. Sarah is an owner occupier who lives in a house with one storage heater, two convector heaters and an immersion heater for hot water.  The house was on an Economy 7 tariff for her electricity supply which means that she pays a lower rate at night-time when the storage heater and her hot water cylinder are heating up.  However, she pays a higher rate in the day when using her electrical appliances.  She was therefore very reluctant to use her convector heaters as she was concerned about the higher running cost of these.

Sarah is a pensioner on a low income, she struggled to keep her home warm and was unable to afford the cost of installing new storage heaters in her home. She has a long term health condition that is affected by the cold and had recently had several falls resulting in injury.  It had previously been established that her property was too far from the nearest gas main to be able to connect her home to the mains gas supply.

The Hitting the Cold Spots Advisor visited Sarah and found that the storage heater in her lounge was also not working properly and that much of the heat was being released whilst the appliance was heating up at night-time.  She was unable to control the level of heat being released and found that she was running out of stored heat by the following evening.  An electric oil filled radiator was supplied to help with heating the main living area downstairs during those days when it was particularly cold.

The Advisor assisted Sarah in arranging quotes from local Buy with Confidence registered electricians for the cost of installing new and replacement electric storage heaters in her property.  Sarah’s application for Hitting the Cold Spots funding was approved.  Combined with an additional grant from her local council, new storage heaters could be installed in her home.

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

“Hitting the Cold Spots offered exceptional customer service and were very helpful and friendly. They showed me other organisations who could help and I am very satisfied with the work.”

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 staywarm@environmentcentre.com to speak to an advisor.

Southampton Healthy Homes: Isabel’s story

tEC image_client boiler airing cupboardIsabel contacted us as she was looking for help regarding her heating system. Her combination gas boiler had broken down and would only supply the hot water when the heating was on. Isabel suffers from multiple health problems that keep her off work and restrict her financially meaning that she couldn’t afford to repair it herself.

The Southampton Healthy Homes Advisors visited Isabel to talk her through different grant funding options and supported her in applying for them. During the grant application process, the boiler completely broke down leaving Isabel without heating and hot water. The Advisors arranged for the delivery of an electric plug-in radiator to keep her warm until the new boiler was installed.

Isabel was awarded a combination of grants from the local authority and the national ECO scheme. These fully funded the installation of a new and more efficient gas boiler which improved the energy efficiency rating of her flat from D66 to C72 (based on the Energy Performance Certificate) and showed an estimated annual saving on her energy bills of approximately £109 per year.

As well as helping with the heating, the Advisors arranged a visit from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and assisted Isabel in applying for the Warm Home Discount, a government scheme that offers a discount of £140 off electricity bills.

All advisors, tEC staff etc. were incredibly helpful, courteous and pleasant. The workmen didn’t stop for a tea break or lunch! They worked very hard and also offered to hoover! Everyone was wonderful and this funding was a real lifeline to me

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: 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.