Winter Worries: The effect of cold homes on health
In England and Wales there are approximately 24,000 excess winter deaths every year. These deaths are mainly caused by the effects of cold on the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, leading to an increase in coughs, colds, chest infections, flu, heart attacks and strokes. Most of these deaths occur because of the prolonged mild winter temperatures (5-8 C) rather than the short cold snaps below freezing. It is therefore particularly important to keep your home warm throughout winter, not just when the snow falls!
Many factors affect how cold a home is, and therefore the risks of health problems. They include: how well your home is insulated; how efficient your heating system is; how much you can afford to heat your home; and, your particular susceptibility to illness, ie from a medical condition or the young and old.
NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence) produced guidance on how to prevent excess winter deaths. It makes twelve recommendations, including that local charities should provide access to housing insulation and heating, more affordable fuel options and advice on how to avoid the health risks of cold homes. The Green Doctors at Groundwork Leeds work to alleviate some of these issues among householders in Leeds.
The Green Doctors provide a completely FREE service called the WARMTH FOR WELLBEING service. Among other things the Green Doctors compare your energy bills using an impartial website and can help you switch there and then, often saving you £100’s a year; help you apply for the Warm Homes Discount (a £140 rebate of your electricity bill). Whilst one of our Green Doctors imparts some of their energy saving wisdom and heating advice another will install measures to make your home more energy efficient, hereby saving you more money and keeping you warmer. These measures include energy saving light bulbs, draught proofing, reflective radiator panels, pipe lagging and water saving devices.
In addition, subject to eligibility, there are free repairs to hot water systems and heating including central heating, other heating appliances and boiler replacements.
In short, if you want a warmer home this winter and save some money while you do it, then call the Warmth for Wellbeing Service on 0808 1683547.
This post was written by William Staunton-Sykes, MBChB and MSc (pending) using our Create an article for South Leeds Life page.