The Hertfordshire Warmer Homes scheme offers free or discounted household energy improvements to eligible vulnerable and low income households.
The scheme helps to:
- Reduce energy costs and make energy bills more mangeable
- Reduce poor health outcomes associated with cold homes
Run in partnership with district and borough councils, Hertfordshire County Council and the National Energy Foundation, the countywide scheme uses Energy Company Obligation money from energy suppliers to fund energy efficiency measures such as loft insulation, boilers and draught-proofing. The scheme is coordinated by a funded assessor, who checks resident eligibility and arranges installations.
The scheme is due to run until October 2018. For more information, or for you or a resident to make a referral, contact HertsHelp:
Download a communications toolkit with further background to the scheme, sample newsletter texts, social media posts and more. You can also download the marketing materials to print, display and use.
Who is eligible for Hertfordshire Warmer Homes?
Generally, those who live in private accommodation - owned or private rented - and receive certain benefits. However, the scheme is also open to a number of other residents and their household members, including those on low income, those with certain health conditions making them vulnerable to cold, or who live in social housing with a poor energy performance rating. Read more about the Affordable Warmth Obligation or contact HertsHelp for further information. HertsHelp will also be able to advise on other support, should a resident not be eligible for Hertfordshire Warmer Homes.
How does a cold home affect health?
The effect of excess cold on health and wellbeing is estimated to cost the NHS around £848million a year from preventable injuries, accidents and health conditions. Public Health England notes the effect cold weather has on incidences of heart attacks, strokes, respiratory disease, flu, depression and the risk of falls or issues as a result of poorly maintained heating appliances. Unlike other housing hazards which can result in accidents, cold homes can cause a steady decline in the health of occupants.
The World Health Organisation recommends that safe indoor temperatures for older people, young children and those with a long term health condition is 21°C (70°F) during the day and 18°C (64°F) at night. Temperatures below this can lead to or exacerbate health conditions.
Who is most vulnerable to the cold?
Very cold weather can affect anyone, but guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence identifies people with the following conditions as being particularly vulnerable to cold:
- people with cardiovascular conditions
- people with respiratory conditions (in particular, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and childhood asthma)
- people with mental health conditions
- people with disabilities
In addition, older people (over 65) can be vulnerable as they are more likely to suffer health problems such as heart attacks, strokes and chest infections. Children under 5 and pregnant women are also more at risk, as are people who move in and out of homelessness, people with addictions, people who have attended hospital due to a fall, recent immigrants and asylum seekers.
Those on a lower income and/or high energy costs, sometimes a result of poor energy efficiency, are also at risk from not being able to afford to adequately heat their homes. In Hertfordshire, 8% of residents are living in fuel poverty - meaning households that live below the poverty line and have higher than average energy costs. This can be made worse if spending longer periods of time at home, for example, due to a disability. Improving energy efficiency through the Hertfordshire Warmer Homes schemes can therefore be a sustainable way of bringing about healthy home temperatures.
What can I do to help?
As a health, social care or other professional you may come into contact with someone, or a member of their household, who could benefit from a warmer home via the Hertfordshire Warmer Homes schemes. You should:
- signpost or refer to HertsHelp, who can provide further information on both this scheme and other support related to cold or hazardous homes.
- signpost to Hertfordshire winter health for information on the scheme as well as other tips and advice on staying warm and well this winter.
Where can I find more information on cold homes and health?
For further information on the health impacts of cold homes: