The importance of living in a home that is adequately heated and the role that insulation can play in helping households in Cornwall to live warmer, healthier lives is being highlighted by a Cornish charity as part of National Fuel Poverty Awareness Day on Friday (11th February).
Cold weather claims the lives of more than 300 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly every year. Community Energy Plus – Cornwall’s leading charity delivering local solutions to fuel poverty, energy efficiency and renewable energy -is working to raise awareness of the scale of the fuel poverty problem in Cornwall and the steps that householders can take to cut their heating bills, become more energy efficient and fight fuel poverty.
Working with NHS Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Community Energy Plus has produced 40,000 hot water bottle shaped thermometer cards to help householders at risk of fuel poverty to identify if their home is too cold.
The thermometer cards have been distributed to all GP surgeries in Cornwall and through a network of organisations working with families, the elderly and those living with long term illnesses and disabilities which are likely to suffer from heath conditions as a result of living in a home that is not adequately heated.
The recommended room temperatures are 21°C for main living areas and 18°C elsewhere. A home temperature of 15°C increases the risk of respiratory illness and at 12°C householders face an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. At 9°C and below there is a serious risk of hypothermia.
Alec Rice, Fuel Poverty Projects Manager at Community Energy Plus commented: “There’s an important link between keeping warm and staying well but with soaring energy costs and a difficult economic climate we’re aware that many householders in Cornwall are rationing their heating or self-disconnecting which can put them at risk of serious medical conditions. We’re committed to working with front line workers and service providers to raise awareness of fuel poverty in Cornwall and offer solutions to alleviate the problem. Thermometer cards are our latest tool in targeting support towards the individuals at greatest risk of fuel poverty and I’m confident that they’ll be a useful and potentially lifesaving resource.”
Fitting cavity wall and loft insulation is an easy way to keep the heat in and the cold out and Community Energy Plus offers free and discounted insulation schemes in conjunction with Cornwall Council on 0800 954 1956. Householders in Cornwall can get advice on how to save energy and money by calling the Energy Saving Trust’s local advice team on 0800 512 012.
Cornwall has the highest rate of fuel poverty in the South West, with almost one in five households spending more than 10 per cent of their income on heating their homes. A number of factors in Cornwall contribute to this worrying figure including low income levels, rising energy costs and the high number of households off the main gas network many of which rely on more expensive forms of heating.