Fuel poverty and the Warm Home Check Service transcript
Hello, my name is Louise Trenchard and I'm the East Sussex Fuel Poverty Coordinator.
I want to talk with you today a little bit about fuel, poverty, energy efficiency and what support might be available to you if you're struggling to keep warm and well this winter.
So, before I go on about what's available locally, I just wanted to talk about what is fuel poverty and how it might look for you. Or people that you know if you if you're worried about staying warm this winter.
Fuel poverty is broadly being unable to heat your home to an acceptable level. This should be we say around 18 degrees. It could be a little bit warmer in your living room, so 21 degrees, so somewhere between 18 degrees celsius and 21 degrees celsius and this should be an affordable expense for you, so you shouldn't be making decisions as to when to ration your heating too much or worrying about being able to afford it or making decisions on whether to eat or whether to heat your home enough and you shouldn't be getting into too much debt or any debt to heat your homes.
The Government, nationally talk about fuel poverty as a low income, low energy efficiency. So, this is the definition that the government uses to look at how many people might be struggling in fuel poverty.
Low income is one part and a low energy efficiency, so we'd look at energy efficiency using an EPC. So, at Energy Performance Certificate and we say that anything D or below is considered fuel poor, it's considered poor energy efficiency. So, if you have a low income and D and below EPC then you'd be considered to be in fuel poverty.
If you've moved house recently or you're renting, you should be able to see your EPC or even online you should be able to see it there. You can just say find my EPC for a household and you can do that online. An A is the best and G is the worst and anything D or below is considered to be fuel poor.
Things that might make it harder to heat your home to a good level would be a lot of the time would be things like energy efficiency measures. So, whether your home is older and therefore has solid walls which are harder to insulate, doesn't have cavity wall insulation, no loft insulation.
Generally, a poorly insulated home would be harder to heat, your more like to lose your energy. You're paying for your heating and you're putting it in. It's going to leave the home more easily. Other things would be energy efficient heating systems, so often things like solid fuels or oil. So, if you're off the main gas network or have old electric storage heaters, these can all make it more difficult to heat your home affordably.
So, when we're thinking about what the causes of fuel poverty are we say there are three main causes. One is low income, one is the cost of heating, and one again is that energy efficiency bit. So, at the moment we know a lot of people are struggling a bit more than usual because, as you will have seen in the news a lot, the cost of energy, particularly gas, has gone up a lot over the last few weeks and has actually led to a lot of a companies going bust.
If you think of those three main things, so you've got the energy efficiency, low income, and cost of heating up, so we know that cost of heating's gone up. We've seen that it's happening already, and it's a lot in the news, and we know that incomes are a bit lower at the moment. Perhaps you had benefited from the Universal Credit measure increase before, and now it's come down. All of this coming together. The main thing that we can do to improve the affordability of keeping warm at home is to do those energy efficiency measures.
Although all of us want to be able to be warm enough and don't want to live in a cold home, there are some people who are more at risk of the health impacts of being in a cold home. So, people like 65 and older, children under 5, anybody with a long-term health condition and disability, especially heart, respiratory or a history of stroke or risk of stroke or poor mobility would be at an increased risk of fuel poverty and the health impacts of fuel poverty.
Now there are quite considerable impacts of living in a cold home, anything below 16 degrees, we start to experience a decrease in our ability to fight respiratory infections and between 9 to 12 degrees you see an increase in risk of cardiac events or strokes and anything below 5 actually puts us at risk of hypothermia, albeit that is an unusual thing to happen it is possible. And at the most serious living in a cold home can put you at risk of dying.
So, it's pretty important that we get help when we need it to stay warm at home, and I'm going to talk with you today about what support is available in East Sussex for you. Before I do that, I do just want to touch on what's happening at the moment, so very recently in the news we've seen that larger supplier Bulb has also gone into special administration and I just wanted as this is the 21st company since September to go into administration. So, there might be a lot of you out there wondering what you should do next.
Now the key thing is don't panic. Your supply is secure and your credit with your company is secure. So, if you have money already that you've paid and built up, that money is secure. It can take a little while to get back, but you will get it back. Otherwise, the best thing to do now is to take a metre reading note down which day it was and just to keep that ready for when you're contacted.
Ofgem they're the regulator of energy companies are in a process now to ensure that your supply is transferred to a supplier of last resort, so your suppliers safe your credit is safe. Other than taking some meter readings, sit tight, don't panic. You won't lose anything because your company, your energy company has gone bust.
So now I just want to talk a little bit more about what support is available locally. We have the East Sussex Warm Home Check Service. This is a countywide service, and it is free and available year-round. The service is commissioned by East Sussex Public Health and is delivered by a not-for-profit energy efficiency and retrofit company called Retrofit Works along with Citizens Advice East Sussex
So, we have a few different paths to support and the first one is that there is the Keep Warm and Well helpline. Anybody can call this helpline and ask for some advice on how best to keep warm and well at home. There's no eligibility as long as you live in East Sussex the service is available to you. The main part of the service is the Warm Home Check. This does have some eligibility requirements; you need to be on a low income and have a long-term health condition and disability or be on means tested benefits.
So, what does the Warm Home Check mean? It means someone is going come to your home they're going to look around, look at your house and what it's like to keep your home warm offer you advice on how to do that better and make that easier for you. And also look at what minor measures small measures that you could benefit from all of the small measures they're free and included in the main part of the Warm Home Check service.
The person that comes around, the advisor that comes round, will look at what's best for your home. But it could include things like a boiler service, low energy lighting, boiler repairs, and things like lagging, thermal curtains chimney balloons, all sorts of things that might, draft exclusion that will make it easier for you to keep the warm in your home and to keep it healthy and good for you at home. So, other things like ventilation as often cold homes can get quite a lot of condensation, and that conversation can build up and make it feel damp, and we may exacerbate things like breathing difficulties at home. So those sorts of measures are available as a core part of the Warm Home Check service. While the assessor is there, the assessor will be looking round and will be talking with you and to discuss whether your home and you are eligible for any larger pieces of government funding.
In East Sussex we've been successful in a Hastings Borough Council led bid for a few rounds of the Green Home Grant local authority delivery scheme and as well as this we are able as a service to access ECO funding which is the Energy Company Obligation funding. So, we're able to fund so long as you and your household are eligible and the funding source is still available more major measures now those major measures can include a lot of the insulation, so when I was talking about the importance of ensuring that we're not heating a home where all of the heat is leaving the property so things like floor insulation, loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, they're all available to be funded in these major measures.
Other things such as low carbon heating options, things like air source heat pumps and solar PV are also available. So that's the advice.
The small measures and the larger measures, we also are able to offer temporary heating, so if you're heating suddenly goes bust this winter and you're going to be a few days without heating, or perhaps a little bit longer. The first thing we can do is make sure that you have some temporary heaters available to you so that you're not going to be cold and unable to stay warm enough.
That's the main parts, the other bit is that we're able to talk about holistic officer support, so this looks at things beyond the those three key things that we're talking about. So, looking at perhaps some debt advice if that's what's affecting your ability to pay, fuel vouchers, support with getting on the priority service register. All of those things and perhaps referrals onto other services to ensure that we're not just helping you immediately, but we're trying to help you in the long term as well.
So how did you come to at the service? The main and quickest way to contact the service is on our website, which is www.warmeastsussex.org.uk or you can also call and so on the on the website there's lots of information available as well as our web form it's a quick three minute-five minute form to fill in and we will get back to you from there. Alternatively, you can call us on a free phone number 0800 4647307. That's 0800 4647307 and you can also text us WARM to 80011, so texting WARM 80011. And all of that is available through on the website www.warmeastsussex.org.uk.
Thank you very much and I hope that answers some of your main questions. Please do you get in contact with the service and have a very good day. Thank you, bye
Fuel poverty and the Warm Home Check Service