Green Matters: Not everyone has affordable warmth

PUBLISHED: 10:48 02 February 2006 | UPDATED: 11:28 04 May 2010

This is the first article for our new monthly column Green Matters. Each month we will get an expert to talk on different subject related to protecting the environment and conserving valuable natural resources and in some cases possibly saving you mone

This is the first article for our new monthly column Green Matters. Each month we will get an expert to talk on different subject related to protecting the environment and conserving valuable

natural resources and in some cases possibly

saving you money.

Today, Ian Bowers, Home energy conservation officer at East Cambs District Council tells readers how they can save on their heating bills.

Winter isn't over yet, as last week's sub-zero temperatures ably demonstrated.

While most of us can afford the luxury of heating our homes to a comfortable 21d C (70d F in old money), over 30,000 households in the UK will be dangerously cold this winter as they struggle to meet spiralling fuel bills, often choosing to pay for other essentials rather than heating fuel.

Recent calculations put the number of households in danger at around 2000 here in East Cambridgeshire, (that's over five per cent of all households in the district) and given that 80 per cent of people suffering this blight are either elderly, disabled or at home with young children, it is a cause for real concern made all the more pressing by imminent further increases in the price of gas.

The simplest way to tackle the problem (known in government circles as fuel poverty, or when a household that has to pay out over 10 per cent of its income to heat and light the home) is to reduce the cost of heating, or to increase the dwelling's energy efficiency.

The installation of loft and cavity wall insulation and draught proofing to the doors and windows can reduce heating costs by up to 30 per cent, but in some cases a new, efficient central heating system is required to provide affordable warmth.

Many old heating systems - especially those using solid fuel - waste more heat than they provide, and even electric storage heaters can be very expensive to run unless they are supported by high levels of insulation in both the loft and the walls.

East Cambridgeshire District Council, in partnership with central government and the energy suppliers in the country, is able to provide the necessary finance to help the vast majority of households experiencing these kinds of difficulties.

Anyone owning their own home or living in privately rented accommodation, who is receiving an income related benefit or living on an income of below £12,000 a year, is entitled to a grant to improve their home's energy efficiency.

For further information please contact your Home Energy Conservation Officer on 01353 616251.

Householders renting their homes from a Registers Social Landlord, such as Hereward Housing Association, should contact their housing officers to discuss any improvements.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Do you feel strongly about protecting the environment? Do you have any energy saving ideas to pass on to other readers? Write to: The editor, The Ely Standard,

38 Market Street, Ely, Cambs

CB7 4LS or email: debbie.davies@archant.co.uk

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