5 tips on how to be more energy efficient – August’s Hot Tips

Our free calendar “Hot Tips” aims to ensure everyone in Scotland knows about the organisations and services available to them, and provides information on how to make the most of later life.

Our topic for August is Energy Efficiency. Ciaran MacDonald, Policy Officer at Age Scotland, shares five top tips on what you can do now to be be more energy efficient and potentially save money ahead of heating your home this Winter.

This has been an exceptionally cool summer. In fact I was invited on to BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Good Morning Scotland’ programme earlier this month to discuss what sort of knock on effect this can have, and how cooler summer months could affect a growing older population.

One of the points mentioned during this discussion was that if we spend money on heating during the summer then it could have an impact on household budgets for the rest of the year.

Yet, help is at hand. The summer months are an ideal time to think about how energy efficient our homes are. If you would like a more cost-effective and warmer home this winter, then why not follow these simple steps.

Step 1
It’s always wise to make sure your energy supplier has an accurate and up-to-date reading of your meter. Most suppliers will have dedicated lines, which you can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to inform them of your usage.

Step 2
Call your energy supplier to see if you are on the cheapest possible tariff that reflects your usage. Although your circumstances may change throughout the year your supplier will be able to recommend the best deal for you – so just ask!

Step 3
Switch off any electrical equipment, which you don’t need left on. You could make a yearly saving of up to £3 by turning off one appliance. As some homes have up to 50 appliances on standby at any one time that’s a lot of money to be saved!

Step 4
Consider installing an energy efficiency measure. There are many simple technologies that can be added to make your home warmer, such as installing loft insulation or a more effective central heating system. Home Energy Scotland is supported by the Scottish Government and is the one stop destination for free and independent advice on what is best for your home.  Visit the Home Energy Scotland website or call 0808 808 2282 for more information.

Step 5
Don’t be scammed! Sadly there are many ruthless tradespeople out there capitalising on people’s fears of the cold. If you have any doubts or feel pressurised to agree to work then don’t! If a scheme is legitimate you will not need to sign up for it there and then. Reputable companies will fully understand this. If you have any queries or concerns then contact Home Energy Scotland (details above) or the Trading Standards Scotland Consumer Advice line on 03454 04 05 06.

Finally, if you are worried about meeting the cost of your energy supply or if you live in a home that is difficult to heat, remember help is available. For free, independent advice, why not contact Home Energy Scotland or get in touch with your local Citizens Advice Bureau or call the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.

Download your 2015 Hot Tips Calendar here and get information and advice throughout the year. Here’s what you’ve thought about Hot Tips so far:

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Carers Trust Scotland – Emergency & Future Planning for Older Carers– June’s Hot Tips

Our free calendar “Hot Tips” aims to ensure everyone in Scotland knows about the organisations and services available to them, and provides information on how to make the most of later life.

The month of June saw us partner with Carers Trust Scotland – the largest provider of comprehensive carers support services in Scotland. Heather Noller, Policy & Parliamentary Officer tells us about emergency planning and future planning for older carers in her guest blog.

In March this year, the Scottish Government introduced the Carers (Scotland) Bill. It’s been a long time coming – first announced in Autumn 2013, an extensive public consultation took place to look at what was required from a Bill for carers and how it would interact with other pieces of Scottish legislation. The Bill is a further chance to highlight carers’ needs and experiences to policy makers, showing them where the gaps are in support and services and improving the carer identification and assessment process. However, there are a few areas where changes need to be made to ensure the new legislation delivers new rights and real change for carers, and one of the key amendments we’re seeking is a commitment to emergency planning and future planning for carers.

Emergency and future planning can be particularly important for older carers, who can be concerned about what will happen to the person they look after if they are unable to continue caring for any reason; a lack of planning (or lack of support to make a plan) often causes unnecessary complications and concerns for them and the person they care for. Nobody likes to think about something bad happening, but for many carers, the details of their caring role and their loved ones’ needs live in their heads rather than being written in a plan, and the need for a plan only becomes clear when an emergency occurs. Early planning and the availability of high quality emergency care and support can help to relieve concern in cases like planned hospital admission for the carer, and in emergency situations, when things can happen at very short notice, the plan is clear and accessible to everyone involved in caring for the carer and the person they look after.

Often the key thing is to provide continuity and security for the cared for person, especially if it’s important for care and support to be delivered by people they know. It might not be easy to think about what might happen if caring is no longer possible, but in the long term it’s the best thing for carers and the people they look after to make sure that a difficult situation isn’t further compounded by not having a plan in place.

The Carers (Scotland) Bill is a great opportunity to improve outcomes for all carers in Scotland and to highlight in legislation the importance of carers having the opportunity to plan for emergencies and the future. It should be a fundamental part of an Adult Carer Support Plan and Young Carers Statement so that all carers get the opportunity to discuss their emergency and future planning needs. Enable Scotland and Carers Trust Scotland have worked together to lobby the Scottish Parliament to make changes to the Bill around emergency and future planning, and we’ll continue to discuss the issues with organisations that work with carers, like Age Scotland, to make sure that a wide range of views of represented.

Visit Carers Trust Scotland or call 0300 123 2008 for more information.

You can still download your 2015 Hot Tips Calendar here and get handy information and advice. Here’s what you’ve thought about Hot Tips so far:

  • “Brilliant information that I will pass onto family and friends”
  • “Thank you for the calendar – useful & attractive”
  • “Invaluable, great help – used daily, all year”

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“Looking After You” – January’s Hot Tips

Our free calendar “Hot Tips” aims to ensure everyone in Scotland knows about the organisations and services available to them, and how to make the most of later life.

January’s theme is “Looking After You” and offers tips on keeping active, healthy and happy. Age Scotland Allied Health Professionals Yolanda Strachan and Jenny Ackland expand on these themes in their guest blog.

A new year can give us a bit of encouragement to break the habits of the old one. So 2015 could be the perfect time to look at what you can do to improve your health and well-being.

Research is increasingly showing that too much sitting is having a significant negative impact on health.  It is linked to an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Inactivity can also impact on our mental health; lowering our mood and increasing the risk of depression.

Keeping active, keeping warm

Sitting too much is also a risk factor in contributing to falls.  New research shows that older women sitting in a cold room (at a temperature of 15 degrees C) for 45 minutes can have a remarkable loss in muscle power. This means it is more difficult to get out of a chair and will reduce walking speed.

632x305_smiling ladies on the couch

It is so important to keep warm and moving about, especially at this time of year, as it will help to warm up your muscles. Sue Lavery, an Occupational Therapist, has shared some useful hints that may help you keep warm in the cold weather.

  • Warm clothes – wear lots of layers that are easy to put on. If you need any help getting dressed, you can consider purchasing dressing aids, which are available here.
  • Warm feet – your feet are particularly difficult to warm up, so keep moving about and don’t let them get cold. Try wearing socks with high wool content and well-fitting shoes. Only wear slippers for short periods.
  • Warm room – if you can, programme your heating to come on before you get up in the morning. A remote control timer may help. Contact your energy supplier for information, or visit the Age Scotland website for more information.
  • Warm drinks and meals – establish a routine of making hot drinks, soup, porridge etc. The activity of making these will help keep you warm too. Visit our Spread the Warmth page for hints and tips.


Telecare also has an increasing role to play in helping people to keep warm.  A mobile phone controlled power sensor socket with temperature sensor contains a temperature probe to monitor room temperature. This also alerts carers by text message if for example a heater socket is switched off inadvertently. Click here for more information.

Download your 2015 Hot Tips Calendar here and get information and advice throughout the year. Here’s what you’ve thought about Hot Tips so far:

  • “Invaluable, great help – used daily, all year”
  • “I do not think you could do any better. This is wonderful”
  • “Brilliant information that I will pass onto family and friends”

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Wrapping up household risks for Christmas

Knowing you’ve taken care to minimise risks in your home will put your mind at ease, letting you relax and enjoy the festive period. It’s the small things that can make the biggest difference – like fitting new batteries in your smoke alarm!


Fires and heaters

• For open fires, check the hearth, floor and furnishings for sparks or embers and get your chimney swept every year. Also, use a fireguard and don’t overload the grate or bank the fire too high.

• For gas or electric fires, make sure you switch off at the socket before bedtime, and have your gas fires, boilers and central heating checked annually.

Smoke and gas

  • Buy and fit a smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm. You may get these free if you’re on your energy supplier’s Priority Services Register.
  • Don’t plug up air vents to cut down on draughts – this may cause a build up of carbon monoxide.

Nightwear & electric blankets

  • Make sure you have enough bedding and try to keep your bedroom at a comfortably warm temperature – between 21-23°C is best.
  • In case of a power cut during the night, keep a torch by your bed and a hot drink in a flask should you awake.
  • Wear warm night clothes and/or thermals and socks in bed. Use a hot water bottle or an electric blanket. If your electric blanket is not new, have it checked. Your local Fire department can tell you how.
  • Replace your electric blanket if it is over 5 years old.

If you smell gas, phone the National Grid on 0800 111 999.

The information in this post was taken from our Hot Tips 2013 calendar.  To request Hot Tips 2014 – free for older people in Scotland – please email us.  Next year’s calendar includes contributions from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.