Supporting fuel poor homes to stay more affordably warm

By Dan Jones, Public Affairs and Communications Manager

With the worst elements of the winter period now coming into sharper focus, we’re all increasingly aware of the challenges we’ll face in heating our homes in light of escalating energy prices. However, for many homes in Scotland, the scale and nature of rising energy prices over the last twelve months has meant that fuel poverty – defined as where a household is unable to affordably heat the home to an acceptable level – is now reaching crisis point.

In this context, it’s never been more important to make sure that those households who are in or at risk of fuel poverty receive the support they need, and Warmworks has a central role to play in that process.

As the Managing Agent for the Scottish Government’s national fuel poverty programme, Warmer Homes Scotland, we’ve delivered heating and energy efficiency upgrades to more than 30,000 homes since 2015. And in every one of the last six years, different homes in each local authority area in Scotland have had work completed, meaning that it’s a scheme operating on a national scale.

While we’re proud of these outcomes in their own right, the most significant impact that the scheme can have is the benefit it brings to the lives of the fuel poor households it aims to help. With that in mind, we’ve just published our Customer Stories booklet for this year, with powerful testimonials from people across Scotland who have received support from the Warmer Homes Scotland scheme over the past 12 months.

One of those people is Ms E from Inverness, who had an air source heat pump fitted under the scheme, together with several other heating and insulation measures. An air source heat pump is a renewable form of technology that absorbs heat from the outside air and uses it to heat the home and its hot water supply. The combination of energy saving measures installed led to a significant jump in the energy efficiency of Ms E’s home, as measured by an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of 48 before the installation to 71 afterwards. This should mean that it will now be easier for her to stay more affordably warm at home. We spoke to Ms E about the impact the Warmer Homes Scotland scheme has had for her personally, and she said:

“We now have a warm home, it is comfortable, we know that everything is up to standard, so we don’t need to worry about it. It has taken a huge amount of worry away and it’s made the quality of our lives much better because of that and because of the warmth that we have.”

Another one of the people the scheme has helped this year is Mr R from Arbroath, who had a new gas boiler fitted under the scheme in February, together with high-heat retention electric storage heaters and energy efficient windows and doors. As a result, the energy efficiency rating of his home has jumped from 47 before the installation of these measures to 70 now. He says:

“I’m very comfortable now, there are no draughts and there is no wind. The house is always warm and I’m really happy with the benefits to my own health, as the cold made me suffer previously. It’s like an entirely new home, I’m really impressed and couldn’t be happier.”

While the scheme has now supported more than 30,000 homes across Scotland, we know there are many more people it needs to reach, and that there is more work for us to do.

As the cold weather begins to take hold, we’d encourage people and families across the country to check their eligibility for the Warmer Homes Scotland scheme by contacting  Home Energy Scotland on 0800 808 2282. Successful applications for Warmer Homes Scotland will then be passed to Warmworks to manage the whole process, from an initial survey visit right through to an independent inspection of any work that is carried out. Our role is to provide support and answer any questions at every stage, ensuring that every household is able to get the help that they need – help that has never been more impactful or meaningful than it is now.

This article first appeared in Holyrood Magazine in December 2022


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