For people living in the Rochdale area, rising fuel costs have proved to be more than just the proverbial headache. Now that costs are reportedly set to drop as the warmer weather takes hold and many new tariffs have been introduced, will a positive impact really be felt or is it merely a sugar-coated pill to mask the bitter taste of fuel poverty?
No one can really say but at least there are some remedies to the fighting off of high costs. The Energyworks Team at Groundwork are working as Green Doctors and just might have the cure to keep high costs at bay: through a simple home visit, the doctors give your home a thorough health-check, talk with you about ways to save energy, and then prescribe some energy saving remedies.
In the coming months, the Green Doctors will be visiting homes across the Rochdale area, offering free support to families with children under five and pregnant women. People over 65 and those with a respiratory illness; a mental health issue; a cardiovascular disease or who have dementia are also eligible for the scheme.
Government figures released in 2014 show that more than 1 in 10 English households is now living in fuel poverty. Having a warm home is one of the most important influencing factors of having a happy, healthy life. A cold home can lead to ill-health and depression for people of all ages. With energy bills set to increase again in the future, becoming energy efficient is more important than ever. We are now working with local authorities, contractors and health partners, social and private landlords to tackle fuel poverty across multiple communities.
As the UK has marked Fuel Poverty Awareness Day to raise awareness of the energy problems faced by low-income households, energy bills continue to be the biggest household worry. Recent YouGov research shows that energy bills are the number one financial concern for households but 66% of people think there is nothing they can do about their rising cost.
The ‘Healthy Homes Campaign’ is being run by the Green Doctors through Groundwork BBOR, in partnership with the British Gas Energy Trust. Programme Manager for the scheme, Suzanne Barningham, said: “Our Green Doctors are out in Rochdale now helping people save energy and money, and improve their health.
“The process is easy: book a visit from us and our Doctors will come to your home and give it a ‘check-up’. They’ll give you energy saving advice and install draft proofing, low energy lightbulbs and reflective radiator panels if needed. They will provide a personal warmth kit and also advise on switching to cheaper providers, energy debts and boiler replacements. All of our help is completely free of charge.”
The scheme has full backing from the local authority. Peter Maynard, Housing Services Manager for Rochdale Council, said: “We know of the large number of Rochdale residents who are experiencing fuel poverty and are struggling to meet the cost of keeping warm. As winter approaches, many people in Rochdale will be starting to worry about the cost of keeping their home warm during the cold snaps. If you are eligible for their help, please get in touch with the Green Doctors to see how they can advise you to make your home warmer and cheaper to run.
So far, over 330 households have already received support and advice and 2650 saving devices have been handed out - free of charge! These devices have included blankets and socks to help residents keep warm; moisture absorbers to help prevent condensation and mould and energy monitors to help people keep tabs on their energy bills.
In preparation for the winter months, follow up visits will be taking place soon to check what long-term improvements have been made and how ready houses are for the colder weather.
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