NEF pilot project to deliver home energy assessments to most vulnerable

6th November 2014

The National Energy Foundation is undertaking a pilot project to deliver home energy assessments to the most vulnerable people in Oxfordshire. The aim is to identify and provide assistance to ensure their homes are warm, healthy, and sustainable places to live. The project has been made possible by a grant from Oxfordshire County Council, which has responsibility for public health in the county.

The National Energy Foundation is encouraging referrals of vulnerable residents who would really benefit from a free home energy assessment to help prevent cold or damp housing conditions exacerbating underlying health conditions.

Who will be helped by having a home energy assessment?

We’re looking to provide these initial assessments to Oxfordshire residents who have health conditions, use healthcare services on a regular basis, and whose housing conditions in terms of thermal comfort/damp/mould might not be up-to-scratch. Health conditions made worse by these types of poor housing include circulatory and respiratory-related conditions such as asthma and COPD. Clearly, we’re keen to make a significant difference (it’s what all our staff strive for!) and make changes that really help residents be healthy and comfortable in their own homes, and have affordable and sustainable energy bills.

What does the home energy assessment service deliver?

A free visit to the resident’s property (which takes about 2 hours) involves an assessor looking at various aspects of the property, including:

  • Energy use in real-time (done using a temporary energy monitor).
  • Presence of insulation.
  • Temperatures.
  • Heating controls.
  • Working with the occupants to see how they use the property and its heating controls, which energy tariff they're on, if their income could be increased and any potential impact the property has on their health.

Also, some standard health forms will be completed. These will help analyse their current health and their use of healthcare resources. These forms will be repeated in 3 – 6 months to ascertain any changes and any information will be used for analysis and evaluation of the project.

Following the visit, a summary of recommendations will be produced, and follow-up assistance will be provided to make some positive changes. Some of the recommendations for home energy improvements might have a cost associated with them. However, there is no obligation for the works to go ahead. Hopefully, some of the recommended measures (for example, cavity wall or loft insulation) could be fully-funded. Help would also be provided to access any grants that are available and liaise with the council’s Home Improvement Agency to fit draught-proofing measures, for example.

Dale Hoyland comments:

“This project really targets those residents who are most vulnerable to the sub-zero weather that has recently arrived, and it will help reduce the excess winter death rates across Oxfordshire. For example, in the city of Oxford alone in 2012, an additional 42 residents died, some in cold and damp homes. These 42 deaths can be largely attributed to excess cold in the home. I feel that more can be done to help. I therefore urge front-line workers and those out in the community to consider making a referral to the National Energy Foundation. It could make all the difference this winter.”

How to make a referral for a home energy assessment

If you're a front-line worker in Oxfordshire and have a resident who meets the criteria, please first make contact with the resident and explain that they might be able to get a free home energy assessment (worth around £150!) to help ensure that they are warm and well over winter, and that their heating bills are affordable. Before passing on any contact details to us, it's important that you have the resident's permission to do so. The only details we need are:

  • Contact name.

  • Telephone number.

  • Address (or at least the village/town).

  • Any additional information / Why you feel they would benefit from a visit.