Our Warm Homes service has been praised for increasing the number of residents who could easily keep their home warm and making it easier to afford energy bills following an independent case study by the charity National Energy Action.
Qualitative research conducted with residents who had benefitted from the Warm Homes service found that:
- The percentage of respondents who could easily keep their homes warm rose from 55% to 67% after receiving support.
- The percentage of respondents who found it easy to afford their energy bills increased by 36%, going from 24% to 60%.
- The percentage of respondents who agreed that the temperature of their homes did not affect how they coped with illnesses after receiving support increased from 23% to 58%.
The report was part of wider research into one of Great Britain’s largest fuel poverty projects and was funded by National Grid and administered by Affordable Warmth Solutions (AWS). The research was carried out by a consortium made up of Newcastle University, National Energy Action (NEA), and Energy Audit Company (EAC), with support from academics at University of Bristol.
It found that significant energy savings were made for the households involved. Mean annual running costs dropped from £2,011 to £1,089 – meaning households which had a new heating system installed made an average saving of £922 per year. This was based on a fuel price figure calculated prior to the beginning of the energy crisis in October 2021.
The case study report praised the efforts of our Warm Homes service in developing strong relationships with other council services and key external partners to provide a streamlined support experience for residents on energy-related advice and information about insulation and heating system grants.
National Energy Action’s evaluation team spoke to one of our residents, Gillian, who previously had no central heating system at her home. She received support through the Warm Homes Fund to have a new gas central heating system installed while she was in hospital with pneumonia which was caused by the conditions she was living in.
Gillian told the evaluators that the addition of central heating had contributed towards an improvement in her quality of life and had given her warmth and a level of control over the temperature of her home, something she had not had previously.
She said: “It’s been the best thing, that gas central heating. My health’s not good, but it is better. I’ve got skin cancer and a broken back, so I can’t walk for very long, but it is better because I’m warm in the house.”
Noting the additional core funding secured to keep the service running for the next three years, the case study concludes “Barnsley Council’s experience is an example of how supporting new services can result in a deeper and longer-lasting impact for households – simply by providing a foundation on which procedures, experience and know-how can be built.”
Councillor Robert Frost, Cabinet spokesperson for Regeneration and Culture, said: “We’re pleased to have been recognised by National Energy Action in their case study and thank them for the kind words in their assessment of our work. It is no less than our teams deserve for their tireless efforts to help our residents to stay warm and well.
“It’s good to know that we are making a difference to residents like Gillian and encourage people to visit barnsley.gov.uk/warmhomes to check their eligibility for heating and insulation grants, our boiler replacement scheme, and other elements of support.
“We want our residents to be able to enjoy life in good physical and mental health, living in homes which are warm, healthy and energy-efficient. While we’re all enjoying the warm weather that summer brings, we know winter isn’t too far away and have started planning for the colder months, which will be here before we know it.
“A key part of this work will be to build on the creation of the Affordable Warmth Charter last year by continuing to bring together organisations from around the borough to share knowledge, skills and resources to tackle the health inequalities caused by fuel poverty.”
The case study is available to read in full on National Energy Action’s website.