Fuel bill blitz against the cold

MORE than 10,000 people in the Suffolk Coastal area face the risk of hypothermia, strokes, heart attacks, and respiratory diseases this winter because they cannot afford to pay their fuel bills.

By Richard Cornwell

MORE than 10,000 people in the Suffolk Coastal area face the risk of hypothermia, strokes, heart attacks, and respiratory diseases this winter because they cannot afford to pay their fuel bills.

But council officials say help is available for many of those who could be affected – and next week they are going out and about in the district to give free advice to families and the elderly on keeping their homes warmer this winter.

Suffolk Coastal is working with a number of partners to improve energy efficiency, and tackle the problem of fuel poverty specifically.

Fuel poverty is the official term for households who cannot afford to pay for adequate warmth in their homes, and it affects about 8,000 homes in the district.

The problems are generated from a combination of low incomes and high fuel bills often caused by inadequate and expensive heating and poor insulation.

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Stephen Burroughs, cabinet member for housing, said there is a clear link between fuel poverty and health as cold homes increase the risk of hypothermia, strokes, heart attacks, and respiratory diseases.

He hoped the roadshows run by the authority's environmental health staff will alleviate fears and offer some real home to those facing problems this winter.

"These roadshows provide an excellent opportunity for residents to come along and get free expert advice on how they can make their homes warmer and save money," said Mr Burroughs.

"With winter fast approaching, now is the time to get some advice on how to increase energy efficiency and get details on free or discounted home insulation or heating offers from the council, Warm Front and the energy providers."

Coinciding with national Warm Homes Week, the council roadshow will be at three different locations spreading the message that by taking a few simple measures homes could be warmer and savings made on fuel bills.

The exhibition trailer will be at The Post Office, Penzance Road, Kesgrave on Monday from 9am to 4pm; The Street/The Causeway, Peasenhall on Tuesday from 10am to 4pm, and The Hill, Wickham Market, on Thursday from 10am to 4pm.

There will be a chance to pick up free energy efficient radiator reflector panels, low energy light bulbs or a jug kettle to replace a more traditional one.

This is thanks to the council providing matching funding for a £500 grant awarded by the National Energy Action Charity and British Gas Warm Homes Week Award Scheme.

Residents can get further information on energy efficiency on 01394 444506.

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