Each year in Calderdale over 100 people die from cold related conditions and many more are admitted to hospital. The local provider of health improvements services is offering advice to local people on how to keep warm this winter and beat fuel poverty.
If a household spends 10% or more of its disposable income on energy costs they are suffering from fuel poverty. With the recent increases in the price of gas and electricity it is estimated that 26% of all households in Calderdale will be fuel poor this winter.
The high cost of fuel, low incomes, under occupancy and energy inefficient homes all contribute to fuel poverty and many vulnerable households are faced with difficult choices such as to heat the house and face fuel debt or cut spending in other areas such as on food.
Cold homes are unhealthy and can affect people in a number of ways including:
•Cardio-vascular disease: The cold increases blood pressure and so there is an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. •Mental and social health: Damp and cold housing is associated with an increase in mental health problems and social isolation. •Respiratory Illness: The cold lowers resistance to respiratory infections. •Coldness impairs lung function. •Dampness; damp increases mould growth, which can cause asthma and respiratory infections. •Falls: As the temperature in the home drops; the chances of suffering a fall increase significantly.
Judy Stewart, a health improvement specialist in Calderdale, said "Few people choose to live in cold damp homes but they can not afford to heat them well enough to maintain their health. With the higher fuel prices these days, it isn’t always an easy decision to just leave the heating on for that bit longer. But, there are ways to help ensure your house is a healthy, warm place for the winter."
One of the best sources for advice in Calderdale is the Council who can offer help on how to keep your home warm at an affordable cost and any grants and free and discounted energy efficiency and insulation schemes that you might be eligible for.
As well as grants to help you can make small changes to reduce your overall energy usage such as using low energy light bulbs, closing curtains at night, turning the thermostat down by 1oC and wearing extra layers of clothing.
More advice about how to get your bills under control is available from www.direct.gov.uk , www.calderdale.gov.uk/housing or the Housing Energy Action Team (HEAT) on 0845 245 6000.