Join the campaign for warm homes

As energy suppliers once more hike up their prices, Age Scotland joins the call for action to keep our homes warm.

Cold hands

Fuel poverty is a national scandal, with more than half of single pensioners fuel poor.  At both Scottish and UK levels schemes have been established to tackle fuel poverty; the Scottish Government’s Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS) and the Westminster Government’s Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation. But there has been some slippage around implementing these, with the poor results so far for the Green Deal being particularly concerning.

Much of the cost of the UK Government’s schemes is levied as an added cost on household fuel bills, which means that those already struggling to pay their bills are disproportionately penalised.  This needs to change.

Part of the solution to fuel poverty is for the UK Government to use the money it gets from carbon taxes to help make homes super-energy efficient – with excellent insulation, renewable energy and modern boilers.  The UK Government taxes big companies for the damage their carbon emissions cause to people and the environment. These taxes are used by the Government to help combat climate change and wean the UK off dirty fossil fuels.  That’s a good objective, but the money the Government receives isn’t being used to help people use less energy to heat their homes – which would cut carbon emissions even further AND cut people’s energy bills.  The companies eventually pass these taxes on to consumers and they end up on our bills. Over the next 15 years Westminster will raise an average of £4 billion every year in carbon taxes.

Recycling carbon revenue to make homes super-energy efficient could bring 9 out of 10 homes out of fuel poverty. It could also be used to quadruple savings in carbon emissions compared to the Government’s new energy efficiency schemes and create up to 200,000 jobs – exactly what we need to support the UK’s economic recovery.

If you agree please send an e-message to your MP.

We can also make a difference by encouraging older people across Scotland to find out about, and take advantage of, existing help for cutting home energy bills.  Home Energy Scotland can carry out a free home energy check, no matter what your circumstances, or wherever you live in Scotland. 

Warm homes graphic

Cutting the cost of your energy bills

While winter lasts there’s still time to cut fuel bills while staying warm, says guest blogger Dagmara Opilka of Home Energy Scotland.

EST House2

In 2012 over a quarter of households in Scotland spent more than 10% of their income on heating their homes.  We’ve all felt the massive price rises over the past few years, not just from the power companies but the overall costs of living have increased dramatically. Whether it’s due to a house that doesn’t keep the heat in, living on a low or fixed income, cold weather or often a combination of all three, the most common outcomes tend to be the same – falling into debt, deteriorating health, extreme stress and an overall decrease in well-being.

There are more and more people that want to or simply need to know what they can do to save money and be comfortable in winter time without compromising their lifestyles. And the support is there, through our free phone line.

The Home Energy Scotland Helpline, funded by the Scottish Government and managed by the Energy Saving Trust, offers free and impartial advice to anyone looking to find out more about saving energy, government grants and living sustainably. Our friendly, local advisors will explore all avenues of government and local schemes to make sure that you can get the support you’re entitled to.

They will discuss and advise on a wide range of topics, such as energy efficiency of your house, ways to reduce your gas and electricity bills, reducing transport costs, reducing waste and up-to-date information on renewable technologies. It’s all about making it relevant and useful to your own circumstances.

If you would like to read more about Home Energy Scotland and find out about other people’s experiences of getting in touch with the helpline, vist our online case studies bank.  Or simply call 0800 512 012. It doesn’t cost a penny but it might be most useful call you make this winter.

 

Energy bills. What’s your story?

Age Scotland’s Policy Officer, Greg McCracken, asks blog readers about their experiences of fuel bills, price increases and energy efficiency measures.

Gas Fire

Staff at Age Scotland have been hearing more and more about older householders across the country experiencing significant increases in their fuel bills despite having installed energy efficiency measures in their homes.  Now, we’re looking for people to participate in case studies which we can use in our lobbying work.

While energy efficiency measures – and in particular new heating systems such as Air Source Heat Pumps or Electric Wet Heating Systems – are supposed to save money and reduce fuel bills, we’ve been told that some people have actually seen their fuel bills increase to over £2,100 per year.

Just to put that in context, that’s nearly a third of your state pension going up in smoke!

A recent report by Consumer Focus Scotland revealed that, while many of these heating systems can deliver improvements, there can be significant costs for householders who are not effectively instructed how to use their new system.

Furthermore, where some modern heating systems such as Air Source Heat Pumps are installed in housing that is older, or isn’t fully insulated (including, for example, solid wall insulation), the system will not be able to operate effectively and will, therefore, cost more to run than it should.

Right now, the Scottish Government is consulting on its Sustainable Housing Strategy.  We want to ensure this strategy is genuinely fit for purpose and reflects the reality of older people living across Scotland.

Age Scotland always encourages older people to undertake a benefits check to make sure they’re getting all the support to which they’re entitled, or to switch providers and ensure they’re on the cheapest tariff.  However, with bills in excess of £2,000 in some cases, it’s unlikely that either of these would be more than tinkering around the edges.

That’s why we’re extremely keen to hear if you’ve experienced a similar story to those above.  Age Scotland wants to develop case studies where people’s bills have risen despite making changes to their home’s energy efficiency.  For example, have you:

  • Installed a new heating system, only to find that your bills haven’t gone down?
  • Received a grant or advice from the Energy Saving Trust for a new system that hasn’t reduced your bills?
  • Had a new system installed but not been instructed how to use it?

If you tell us your story, we will use your experience absolutely anonymously if that’s what you would prefer.  Your personal testimony is so important to strengthening our messages, so if you’d be interested in participating, contact greg.mccracken@agescotland.org.uk, or telephone 0845 833 9332.