Keep warm to keep well

RESIDENTS in East Sussex are being urged to stay warm and well as the winter weather begins to take hold.

People who struggle to keep their homes warm can get support and advice through the council’s warm home check service.

The service offers advice and support to anyone who finds it difficult to afford to heat their home, providing information on keeping homes warm and reducing energy costs as well as the financial support available for heating.

Residents on low incomes may also qualify for a free COVID-secure home visit, which includes a home assessment to help identify how to keep warm, and assistance with minor improvements such as improved insulation and boiler repairs.

About a fifth of carbon emissions in East Sussex are from people’s homes so improving energy efficiency can also help the environment.

Darrell Gale, Director of Public Health at East Sussex County Council, said: “The cold can be very harmful to health, and unfortunately we know there are people in East Sussex who struggle to keep their homes warm.

“We are all aware of the additional health challenges we face this winter, and so it is even more important that residents, particularly families with young children, older people and those with long-term medical conditions, stay warm and well by keeping their home heated to at least 18C (65F) throughout the coming months.”

Linda from East Hoathly was helped by the scheme recently. Linda’s house, which was built around 1900, still has many original features including single glazed windows.

During the cold snap earlier in the year, Linda began to feel unwell and was found to be suffering from hypothermia as her home was not warm enough.

Once she had recovered, Linda was visited by an energy advisor who established that she was eligible for funding from the government’s Green Homes Grant to have new double glazing installed to replace the existing draughty and inefficient windows. Five windows were replaced as well as a bay window and the back door.

Linda is delighted with the results and said: “To say I am thrilled with them is an understatement.  The house feels lighter and brighter, and I am hopeful of a much warmer winter.”

Other residents who have received assistance through the warm home service include Mrs B and Mrs F, both from Hastings.

Mrs B has a number of long-term health conditions and is a full-time carer for her husband.

Following a referral from the council’s housing support service after the couple’s boiler broke down, extra heaters were delivered by the warm home team. Emergency grant funding was applied for from the council so that the faulty boiler could be quickly repaired while an application to replace it was processed.

Earlier this year the new boiler was installed, and Mrs B is extremely grateful.

Mrs F had been advised that her existing boiler was very old and would probably not get through the winter. The warm home team helped Mrs F successfully apply for funding from the Green Homes Grant and Hastings Borough Council’s Housing Renewal Financial Assistance scheme which meant solar PV panels, external doors and a new boiler could be installed.

Mrs F said: “My old boiler was unreliable and costly. It was under three weeks from the initial boiler survey to the install and it is a massive weight off my shoulders to know I can be warm throughout the winter months.

“My health has deteriorated over the years, and having these measures installed will have a positive impact on my health, plus I will save money on fuel costs. Thank you so much.”

The warm home check service is available all year round.

Darrell Gale continued: “I encourage all residents who struggle to keep warm to apply for a free warm home check as soon as possible to see if they are eligible for support to help them heat their homes this winter.”

To find out more and to apply for a warm home check visit, text WARM to 80011 or call 0800 464 7307.

More information on how to stay well this winter is available on the NHS website.