Wednesday, November 29, 2006

BBC Watchdog Part I

Hello There My Friends

Just hope you are all well and that now that the Warm Front Team are considering looking at incorporating alternative technologies into the grant scheme, that they make doubly sure that they only include reputable systems and installers - unlike some existing contractors I could mention.

A recent BBC Watchdog programme highlighted the issues of some systems and contractors installing solar thermal in the private sector. Their article was very illuminating so anyone considering solar thermal from this particular organisation should perhaps read on:

"With climate change and rising energy prices, it's no wonder many of us are looking to alternative energy sources. Solar Technik Ltd offers a system it claims is German engineered, designed by Daimler Benz Aerospace and will slash your energy bills.

The company offers two types of solar heating systems: a basic hot water system and a dual system which also boosts your central heating.

Susan Jappie from Lewes paid almost £11,000 for a dual system, hoping to save money as well as help the environment. But when she noticed no savings on her energy bills, she asked Solar Technik Ltd to investigate. Receiving no response from the company, she got an independent company to inspect the system. The survey revealed Solar Technik Ltd hadn't even bothered to connect her system to the central heating.

We arranged for a Solar Technik Ltd sales agent to visit us. He quoted us £9,850 for a solar hot water system. He claimed it would account for 70 per cent of our hot water needs and provide us with up to 40 per cent of our energy for life.

Solar heating expert Nick Davies from the Buildings Research Establishment told us we should expect to pay between £3,000 and £4,500 for a solar hot water system and, for most of the UK's housing stock, typical savings would be around 15 per cent of total energy bills.

Neil Procter from Taunton paid just under £11,000 for his dual system. This was a lot of money, considering Proctor's system only worked for a month. Almost all of the system had to be removed.

Adebayo Adeokun from Bracknell agreed to pay £10,500, for his system. When it failed to work after installation, a second engineer came to see it and condemned the installation, saying it would never work. The engineer finally got it going but by the following morning, it was stone cold again.

We asked Davies to investigate this too. He detected a fault with the control panel and found a temperature sensor was incorrectly fitted. When we asked Davies whether it would be possible to get any central heating benefits from Adeokun's system, he told us that despite giving the illusion it could, the tank was far too small for it to contribute to space heating. Davies also told us the standard of Solar Technik Ltd's installations he'd inspected was generally very poor. At one job, they’d left a lady without heating for several months.

On investigation, we found many of Solar Technik Ltd's claims to be false and were told by Davies that, from the installations he'd seen, Solar Technik Ltd's dual system was little more than a hot water system and unlikely to provide any contribution to central heating in the UK.

Solar Technik Ltd says it provides a premium product with high levels of performance. It doesn't claim to be the cheapest, but says most of its customers enjoy trouble-free installations and significant fuel savings. It says it's sorry for the cases that didn't go smoothly.

Homeowners can get details of how to apply for grants to get solar power at: "

I wonder if these clients were made aware of the (then) Clear Skies or LCBP grants - mmm !

Enjoy your day and come back soon - more news about BBC Watchdog reports to follow on a more recent programme where they highlighted Warm Front ..... to be continued !!

Make good choices and learn from mistakes - I certainly have lately.

BBC Watchdog Warm Front Link

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Turning The Tide

Hello There

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has recently published a report on the results of work carried out to housing estates over the past 20 or so years and the effects on the communities and the social well being of the residents.

Its interesting to note that the Government has committed to end child poverty by 2020 and with regards to fuel poverty, the first target being to reach those most vulnerable to cold-related ill health by 2010. Many campaigners are concerned that both these targets may not be achieved on time.

There are many positives in the JRF report but there is still a great deal of work to be done to erradicate issues surrounding poverty, debt and health.

The NEA have issued reports about the links between fuel poverty and mental health and it is disturbing that in 2006 we still have to raise this issue. Whilst the Government is likely to allow carry over on energy saving targets by the utilities into EEC3 from the current phase, if that is the case then why does our industry still suffer such huge peaks and troughs? Its extremely difficult for anyone to plan sustainable programmes with the funding issues that arise. More so in the private sector, where chopping and changing funding for measures can give cause for cynicism and lower take up rates.

The NEA suggest that we need one single "administrator" for all the EEC schemes to streamline the process and reduce confusion in the private sector so that customers have one point of contact. That sounds suspiciously like a bid to me !! I like their Warm Zones model but ask anyone who has worked in one (apart from the NEA) and they will tell you how difficult and costly it is to generate measures and that the actual conversion rates are no higher than anyone else's scheme model. However as the NEA operates as a charity I guess one could counter by saying that if its operated on a not for profit basis then that is a very healthy foundation and therefore they do deserve all the support - they do offer a good service and command great respect within the industry for all the lobbying of Goverment to change or present bills or new ideas for inclusion in Government funded schemes.

Rather unlike another "main contractor" who administers and installs on a Government funded scheme and who I understand charges a fee of £50 per property from the installer out of the £300 heating rebate as an administration fee. Not a bad little earner as the total funding pot can cover up to 5000 homes ! Thats £250,000 just for administration - enough funding to help a further 800+ homes. And you just know that the installer is very likely to pass this cost on to the customer in their quote somewhere - what a shining example of profiteering from the pre baby boomer generation and people who have paid into the system all their working lives. I understand that you need to cover costs for admin and overheads but is it really necessary to charge that much out of tax payers funds please?

I guess the old North West saying "You dont get owt for nowt" could apply there - and the problem is that incidents like this can unfortunately tarnish other schemes and people start to think that the truly free 100% funded schemes are a "con". As I have commented before, it is so hard to give away free money in this country. I visited my GP this week and to my amazement he has never even heard of the Warm Front grant - he knows about it now !!

I know a lot of people in the North West who have worked very hard to improve their stock and the domino effect on their residents and communities is fantastic. I would like to congratulate them all on a good job and wish them all the very best in their future plans.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Eco Roundhouse


I thought you might enjoy this article published by the BBC about a couple who have built and reside in an eco-roundhouse in Pembrokeshire. It looks fantastic.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Priority Group Aged 60+

Hi There

Hope youre well - isnt it going dark soon now ?! Happy Thanksgiving to all my US visitors.

I have heard news of a couple of items that I thought might interest you this week. Following on from the likely changes to EEC3 that were announced as part of the consultation by Defra and Ofgem in October 06, it would appear that the utilities are already planning ahead.

I understand that Scottish Power have already amended their schemes (including YES - Your Energy Services) to reflect a target of 80% Priority Group client claims (as opposed to a previous 50%).

That means that 80% of their EEC claims henceforth will need to come from clients who are in receipt of a specific welfare benefit/tax benefit.

I understand that from January 2007 British Gas will follow the same or similar guideline - but with 80% of their claims coming from the private sector and not social housing. This would reflect the proposed change to EEC3 in that its highly likely that Ofgem will stipulate that there will be little or no funding for priority group households in the public sector, as the assumption will be made that most social housing providers (having had over 6 years of EEC funding available to do so) will have installed all the measures necessary and so any that haven't taken full advantage pre April 2008 may well be left to their own devices in terms of funding any work that is still outstanding. This could have a major impact upon investment plans for those SHPs who dont plan to complete insulation works in particular before the end of EEC2! One should also note that the savings score attached to cavity wall insulation will be reduced by 30% (therefore less funding may be attributed to this measure) although it will still be regarded as the primary measure for EEC.

So all SHPs please be aware that this may also be taken on board by the other energy suppliers - with the likelihood that costs will rise due to raw material price increases, fuel costs and also the actual cost of finding the priority group measures in the private sector will escalate.

One possible advantage could be a really simple and effective solution.

With the NEA forecasting a grim statistic for this Winter, that the North West of England will become the highest region for excess Winter deaths from cold related illness and fuel poverty, we ought to focus more on the potential victims and how they could very easily be assisted and how we could literally help to save lives.

Much is made of people in receipt of welfare benefits who are assisted - and rightly so - and who may be considered vulnerable to the cold and at risk of fuel poverty. But what about the thousands of people who are aged 60 and over who arent on any benefits and therefore cannot qualify for 100% funded grants for insulation and/or heating?

Why cant the Government and Ofgem simply alter EEC to reflect that ANYONE who is aged 60+ can be eligible for free insulation and heating - and ALSO free loft clearance.

Every year thousands of loft insulation jobs have to be cancelled because older people cannot clear their lofts to enable the work to be completed - what a massive waste ! I would encourage contractors to establish loft clearance teams or sub contract this work to a reputable company who can work in tandem with the insulation contractor to ensure every job possible is fitted correctly.

Perhaps the NIA could back this call and promote such an idea with their members?

I would ask that anyone who has a part in the decision making process for setting up energy efficiency schemes - from individuals to organisations and Government departments - lobby the legislator (Ofgem) to insist that the 60+ population has the right to free insulation measures regardless of who they take their gas or electricity from?

I know some energy suppliers may have schemes in place to assist the over 60s if they buy their energy from them (eg Powergen, Scottish Power, British Gas etc) but usually its a discounted price forthe insulation and its not 100% free.

I know that many reputable installers try and assist people where possible and some local authority schemes (Burnley BC and Preston CC for example) offer grants up to a certain level for anyone living in their Borough who is aged 60+ but more funding could be contributed and also the utilities would find a more cost effective route to their targets if 60+ clients automatically qualified for free measures.

So please get lobbying Ofgem and your local MP today.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Spread The Word About The Bird

Hello There My Friends

Hope youre well - I havent posted an entry for a couple of weeks as I have been away, recouperating after a very stressful period in my life.

I'm nearly there now .... hopefully all will be right in my world soon.

I stumbled upon a great item today and I would like to urge you to sign up to this petition as well as the many others I have signposted on this blog.

The RSPB have a fantastic element of their UK site that encourages people to pledge to save on CO2 emissions and to focus our efforts to conservation of the wildlife and natural species of birds in the UK today. Take one minute to visit and sign up - please !

Consider one example - the plight of the sparrow. When I was a young girl (not that long ago!) I remember there were always lots of sparrows in the back garden of my home swarming all over the grass digging up the worms when it rained. I still see this activity today in my back yard but alas its not the sparrows now - its just the starlings.

In the space of 30 years things have changed to lots of things in so many ways - its quite frightening that despite peoples' good intentions to feed birds during the winter months (and also the summer) some of our favourite feathered friends are in decline.

So visit the RSPB site and sign up - and whilst there, take a moment to listen to some of the fab audio tracks of songbirds and loads of other varieties whilst you are there. The blackbird is particularly good - such a lovely reminder of summer especially on a cold and miserable November evening ! Please spread the word today to all your email contacts and friends to help this campaign.

Take care and please come back again soon

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Help The Aged

Hello There,

I hope you are well and yes I successfully survived the 3 mile+ road run last week. Im still on my stress busting mission - hence Ive done another 5.5 km this evening with my personal trainer Mrs Tillbrook ! It takes my mind off all the strains of the day(s) and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is suffering from anxiety or those damn negative demons that sometimes come into your life and you may find difficult to exorcise?

On a much more serious note - look at this picture - its awful isnt it? You can feel the cold in this lady's bones. One really positive point this week so far - June Whitfield. What a super lady ! June is championing a Help The Aged led campaign to highlight fuel poverty within our senior population and the assistance and advice householders can obtain free of charge. June even mentioned the Warm Front scheme on BBC Breakfast news - I bet the phones at Eaga were ringing off the hook! However I suspect that June's tip to stuff old newspaper against the outside door to prevent draughts wont be covered by any grant (lol). I think its fantastic that June mentioned that assistance was available from all energy suppliers - not just Gritish Bass.

Its great that such a high profile charity is getting firmly behind this major issue - especially when older people may be particularly worried about rising fuel prices. Anyone watching the Panorama programme last Sunday on the price of gas supply to the UK may well have cause for concern.

Similarly the sight of Malcolm Wicks MP on the Rough gas field off the East coast of England in a bright orange boilersuit should have put those minds at rest. Apparently we are presently able to store up to 11 days' worth of the country's total gas supply at this facility. The same place that was subject to a serious fire recently which its now revealed reduced the available supply at the time to just 2 days !

It was also interesting to note that the spokesperson from Centrica (BG to you and me) did concede that as soon as wholesale gas prices started to reduce, the benefits would be passed on to all their customers - we shall see how long this takes and how many customers they sign up to fixed price deals before they cut their tariffs? I guess its watch this space...

Much would appear to depend on how many gas fields and pipelines of reliable supply remain once Russia has snapped up most of the critical mass in mainland Europe. They havent done anything wrong - its just good business sense. The problem that we have results predominantly from our appalling record of storing our own resources or practically giving away our own high calorific content domestic supply (North Sea gas)?

Add this into the mix alongside poor energy efficiency and lack of public awareness and its a recipe for disaster. However as Professor Stern mentions its not Doomsday .... yet.

And dont get me started on the Arctic - watching Planet Earth on Sunday left me in despair about the polar bears' plight. Blimey I havent bawled at something on the TV like that for ages - it was very upsetting but blatantly poignant. Sir David Attenborough is just such an absolute God - its not just what he says about such issues, its the way he says them and the reverant respect that he commands effortlessly.

I know, lets put Sir David in charge of EEC and our Climate Change policy - far superior to the David we have right now?

In the meantime please add your voice to June's - lets shout this from the roof tops (preferably those that contain up to 270mm loft insulation)

Enjoy the Wednesday exploits and make good choices (from Mandy again x)

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Monday, November 06, 2006

All Social Housing Providers Beware !

Hello There,

Trust you are well and keeping warm and healthy.

Just a quick note to warn RSLs and SHPs in the North West that I understand there are some "second tier" (second rate) insulation contractors that may be attempting to sign up social housing tenants for work under a utility funded priority group EEC scheme using assessors or canvassers to door knock the residents but then trying to actually install the measures WITHOUT landlord's permission.

If you find this is an issue that you may have experienced or be facing at the moment then I would strongly encourage you to take action.

There are several ways to combat this fraudulent and aggravating activity:

Find out the name of the installer and report them to the NIA if they are a member
Complain to the energy supplier or managing agent that is running the utility funding for the scheme
Inform the installer that if they attempt to install measures without permission that you will take legal action
If you already have a programme and approved installer in place that will be using clear approved methods of identification (ID badges and approved letters with company logo and contact names) report the unapproved installer's activities to the local Police Crime Reduction Officer as bogus callers
Remove the offending installer from any future tender list

I understand that such incidents of attempting to generate work are on the increase particularly in Bolton, Bury and Manchester. I would support any action that any SHP or ALMO takes to prevent this type of referral generation, as the other trick that may be used is to approach the local housing office and ask them for permission rather than contact the correct people at the SHPs head office. Believe me this kind of activity can cause chaos and disruption and your local housing officers should be made aware if you have a planned approach that this sort of "back door" route wont be approved.

I hope this helps you to prevent your organisation becoming a victim of such sneaky and disingenuous activity and if I can help or provide any more advice by all means do get in touch. I can name and shame the contractors involved but its doutbful that they even care.

Enjoy your week.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Why Switch Energy Suppliers?

Hello My Friends,

There is nothing like being hit hard in the wallet to focus the mind.

The past 18 months has seen several energy price rises, prompted by supply factors - all of them bad from a consumers' point of view. The upshot has been consumers are shopping around for their electric and gas as never before. However there are also contrasting reports that up to 40% of consumers dont even look at switching suppliers as they view the transaction as such a hassle.

But thankfully the tide of opinion is turning and the number of consumers switching supplier is increasing rapidly. Not so surprising when you consider this week's news about British Gas and their unenviable record number of customer complaints that totals more than all the other five major energy suppliers complaints combined ! Some things unfortunately never change. Watchdog reported this week that British Gas have been in this position consistently over the last 15-20 years - despite increased competition from deregulation it would appear that BG havent changed their habits.

According to the industry regulator Ofgem, roughly half of the UK's 20 million gas customers have now switched from their original supplier since they were first allowed to do so in 1998. A similar story of supplier-hopping has occurred when it comes to electricity. I have changed three times in the past six years and may do so again shortly.

"The UK market is the most open to competition in Europe," says Chris Locke, Ofgem spokesman.

"On average UK consumers can save on average £100 the first time they switch supplier.

"Subsequent switching produces a lower level of savings but money can still be cut from bills."

The recent price rises have given an extra impetus to switching. In April 2006, when a host of price increases started to bite, a record 900,000 customers changed supplier.

Customers are switching themselves using online utility price comparison sites such as uSwitch or Simply Switch.

In theory, it is relatively easy to switch energy supplier. Certainly it is a less arduous process in principle than moving a current account or mortgage provider.

"You simply pick up the phone to the supplier you want to move to, let them know your personal details, bank account number and your meter reference number," says Geoffrey Slaughter, head of product development at uSwitch.

"It is also a good idea to let your new supplier know your usage; just in case you want to pay by direct debit, you do not want to pay more each month than you actually use," he adds.

After this initial call the new supplier contacts the customer's existing supplier and the transfer of account is under way.

The transfer takes a month and all the customer has to do is give their old supplier a meter reading so that a final bill can be generated.

Fixed-price "deals"

The UK's six main energy suppliers are scrapping for your business.

Against a backdrop of rising prices, providers have been working overtime to give themselves what in marketing speak is called a "unique selling point" - in other words, something to stand out from the crowd of companies.

"Protected" price deals have been key to this. There are three types of protected price deals.

"Firstly there is the standard fixed-price deal. As the name suggests this fixes prices for a set period, say (until) 2010. The downside is if prices fall, the customer's bills do not," says Mr Slaughter.

"The second type of deal is capped. Under this type of arrangement, the supplier pledges not to raise prices above a certain level, but if prices fall the customer will see their bills drop.

"The third from British Gas is called fix and fall. Prices are fixed for a specific period of time."

After this specified period of time, end of 2007, prices are guaranteed to fall.

But there is a note of caution to be struck with protected price deals.

Wholesale gas prices have been falling for months, as fresh supply comes online, and this is set to feed through to customer bills in 2007.

Therefore some of those who opted for a standard fixed-price deal may in the not-to-distant future find that they are paying too much. However no providers currently impose a penalty for moving away from a protected price deal. In other words dont be fooled into thinking that longer term fixed price deals are the best solution to save you money on your bills. Many of the energy suppliers are promoting fixed price contracts but imagine if the price of gas falls how many people could actually thereafter be worse off?

Pre-payment Penalty

Not everyone is taking part in the switching jamboree.

Customers who use pre-payment meters - about 12% of gas and 14% of electricity users - are much less likely to have switched than customers who pay by direct debit or monthly bills.

The most recent Ofgem study reveals that just over a third of pre-payment gas users and four out of 10 electricity customers have switched supplier.

This compares with more than half of direct debit and monthly bill payers who have switched.

But according to consumer groups pre-payment customers are the most in need of finding a cheaper energy deal.

On average, pre-payment customers pay £45 more a year than quarterly bill payers or close to £100 more than those paying by direct debit.

"These people are often on low fixed incomes, they could really benefit from moving to a less expensive supplier," says Graham Kerr, spokesman at consumer watchdog Energywatch.

But he added: "Any special deals such as fix pricing are aimed at direct debit and quarterly bill-paying customers.

"The market doesn't work for pre-payment customers. It's almost as if the companies do not want them... after all, it is more expensive to have the meters in place, managing the card or token system."

But energy providers deny that pre-payment customers are being left behind.

"Energy suppliers are heavily investing in new pay-as-you-go (pre-payment) metering technology and they compete for these customers aggressively." said a spokeswoman for the Energy Retail Association.

However, online energy switching services like uSwitch only offer to switch customers paying by direct debit or quarterly bill. Its as though the energy suppliers see the pre-payment meters as the last bastion of really profitable income despite the fact that its general those customers who are most at risk from fuel poverty.

Energywatch accuses the industry of missing a trick.

"In any other walk of life if you pay in advance you get a discount but not for pre-payment energy customers. They have to pay more, it is crazy," said Mr Kerr.


Contact your prospective new supplier and tell them you want to move
Give your new supplier an idea of how much energy you use each month or quarter
Under an industry protocol it should generally take about a month for your account to be switched
On the day of the switch call the supplier you are moving from and give them a meter reading so that they can produce a final bill
Electricity meter

From Your Friend The Energy Ange

Jack Frost Has Arrived

Hi There

Wow the temperature really dropped last night - looks like winter has arrived its due to the minus 4 tonight. So if you know anyone who may be vulnerable to the cold make sure they are ok and are able to heat their homes - even if its just the main living area to the recommended temperature of 21 degrees celsius.

If you think someone may be at risk from the cold, there are a lot of agencies and organisations that can help. The Home Heat Helpline, the local EEAC, if the person is older then agencies like Age Concern and Help The Aged can also help. Your local Council may also have initiatives to provide assistance.

Its really important that we nourish the community spirit that will help to prevent people from perishing this Winter from the cold. Its not difficult - just be mindful of people who live nearby who may be at risk, including young children.

More than 23,000 elderly people died as a result of being too cold last winter in England and Wales.

The year before the toll was 29,000, which is nearly 10 people aged 65 or older every hour.

Yet temperatures only dropped to 4C on average.

Latest figures for Scotland show the nation's winter death toll was the lowest on record. Deaths fell by nearly 1,000, but still totalled 1,790.

Meanwhile, the coldest city in the world, Yakutsk in east Siberia, has no excess winter deaths, even though temperatures there can drop to minus 49C.

So why and how are so many people perishing in the UK from the cold?

Professor Bill Keatinge, an expert from Queen Mary University of London, has studied the issue extensively.

He said: "On the whole, the countries that have the mildest winters tend to have a higher mortality than countries with very cold winters.

"This is because the deaths in winter are not due to massive cold, with people being overwhelmed in their own houses and dying of extreme cold.

"It's down to quite minor degrees of cold that people were getting every day."

Prolonged exposure not big chill

He said very few of the deaths were caused by true hypothermia, where the core body temperature drops significantly.

"Most of them are due to strokes and heart attacks.

"This is because the blood becomes more liable to clot in people who are exposed to the cold."

When exposed to cold, the body contracts down the blood vessels in the skin to stop blood flowing to the skin and to prevent heat loss.

This means more of the blood circulates to central parts of the body, which overloads the heart and lungs with blood.

The body gets rid of fluid to reduce this load by excreting salt and water, but the net result is the blood becomes more concentrated and liable to clot.

The next biggest cold-related killer is respiratory infections such as flu.

But Professor Keatinge added: "Flu epidemics have been declining for over 30 years. The last really big one was in 1976."

He said this was mainly down to recent flu viruses being less virulent rather than medical interventions such as annual flu jabs for the elderly.

"The fact that we now keep much warmer in winter and we are aware of the problem means that all the various causes of cold-related illness and death have declined," he said.

Get Your Jumpers Out

But he said people in the UK and places like Portugal, which also has a high rate of excess winter deaths, were still pretty poor at keeping warm in winter.

"People in the north of Finland take great precautions against cold. They keep their houses warmer in winter than we do, and they are much better equipped for outdoor cold.

"They have much better outdoor clothing. They take it very seriously."

Although we are getting better at keeping our houses warm, Professor Keatinge said people in the UK often dress unsuitably for cold weather.

"There is no problem about being out in winter if you are suitably clothed and you are exercising and you stay warm.

"But if you wait for a bus and you assume a bus is going to come in five minutes and it doesn't come for 45 minutes, and you are at a windy stop with no shelter and without adequate clothing you can get very cold indeed.

"Public transport is a menace from this point of view. It doesn't have to be, but we tend not to have very well heated waiting rooms for trains and bus shelters that are not wind-proofed. That is probably a substantial source of problems," he said.

Global Warming

Studies show older people, and particularly those on low incomes, are at the greatest risk. There are a number of reasons for this.

Those that succumb are not necessarily sick already, but older people's blood vessels tend to have rougher linings than those of younger people, which makes them even more susceptible to clotting.

Image of a woman scraping ice from her car
Even mild winters claim lives

Those on small pensions might struggle to keep their houses warmer and might have to rely on public transport or walk rather than use a car, for example.

Professor Keatinge also warned that global warming could make the situation worse rather than better.

"Global warming is making our winters milder and that could be dangerous. If people stop worrying aboueating theit cold they get more careless about heating their homes and wearing warm clothing."

Mr Patrick Sachon from the Met Office said winter deaths go up by about 1.4% for one degree drop in temperature below 18C.

"So it doesn't have to be that cold to start to increase mortality," he said.

"Our winters are much milder than in other countries. It rarely gets below minus five. Most winter days, the temperature usually gets above freezing and when it's mild, it can be 13C.

"But even when it is relatively mild, if there is a strong wind that can make you cold and people are not prepared for that when they are out and about.

"In this country, people don't think about what getting cold will do to them because it doesn't kill them immediately.

"We don't have well insulated houses and we have a culture that believes having a window open to let in lots of fresh air is good for us, even though it is not.

"What you should actually be doing is keeping your living room at 21C and your bedroom at 18C, which is quite warm by most people's standards."


If you take medicine for a health condition, make sure you have enough of it and keep it at hand
Wrap up warm
Keep active
Keep your bedroom at 18C
Keep your living room at 21C

Image of a radiator
24C - top range of comfort
21C - recommended living room temperature
Less than 20C - death risk begins
18C - recommended bedroom temperature
16C - resistance to respiratory diseases weakened
12C - more than two hours at this temperature raises blood pressure and increases heart attack and stroke risk
5C - Significant risk of hypothermia

In summary dont be complacent - the unusually mild Autumn has lulled us and so when the weather turns much colder we need to be prepared.

So wrap up in your winter woolies, keep warm and keep safe.

From Your Friend The Energy Angel

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Warm Homes Campaign

Hello There

How are you ? Well I hope.

Just a reminder to all my visitors that the NEA will be promoting Warm Homes Week this month.

I took part last year with Dr Brian Iddon MP in Bolton - the couple we visited were lovely and really happy with their new heating system and the difference the insulation measures had made to their semi detached house in Bolton.

The NEA have created a promotional toolkit on PDF that gives some example press release formats so if you are considering such an event then by all means use this opportunity to help you get increased coverage.

The previous year I was due to meet Patsy Carlton MP at a property in Heaton Moor Stockport. I wish now that I'd had the priviledge to meet such an admirable woman - life is indeed too short. Unfortunately the householder decided they didnt want to take part in the publicity arranged by the NEA so we had to cancel hence I didnt meet Ms Carlton.

The NEA are keen to promote the Powergen CaringEnergy scheme - a funding pot of £100million dedicated to vulnerable people who may benefit from energy efficiency measures (insulation), energy advice, information about tariffs and a free Benefits Entitlement check.

Im sure as well as providing assistance, this is also a great method of generating the priority group numbers for insulation measures against their EEC targets particularly in the private sector - I just hope that the people who they can help also get signposted to the Warm Front scheme and its notable equivalents for other measures and assistance. People you can call me cynical, but Ive seen how these things can be manipulated (particularly by some of the programme managers and some of their more celubrious installers)!

Why doesnt the NEA take part funding from each one of the energy companies rather than have just one single utility as a funding partner ? Or is that because only Powergen can support the Warm Homes Campaign - it was Npower last year (Ive still got the sweatshirt) ? Its certainly not a criticism, its a genuine question.

I hope that you are encouraged to take part in the initiative which is scheduled to be promoted towards the end of November with specific MP events scheduled for the last week of November through to 4 December.

Just hope that any Conservative MPs involved dont have the same attitude to climate change that Nigel Lawson so obviously aired on Newsnight last night - it was shameful!

Im off out for a road run tomorrow evening - 3 miles around the West Lancs countryside as part of my stress-busting regime. If I survive (lol) I will be back soon to keep you entertained (and hopefully), informed and inquisitive.

Thanks for your time - take care

From Your Friend The Energy Angel