Helping older people stay safe and well at home
During the winter months, many older people face tough decisions about whether to keep their home warm or pay for other essentials, such as food and rent. We're helping older people who are in or at risk of fuel poverty through our Warm Homes Programme.
The effects of cold homes on health
Every winter, 24,000 older people die in the UK as a result of cold weather. The number of excess winter deaths is much greater in the UK than in other colder climates.
What is fuel poverty?
Fuel poverty is when someone can't afford to heat their home properly. Research indicates the key factors that contribute towards fuel poverty are:
- high fuel costs
- low income
- poor energy efficiency in the home.
Through Benefit Entitlement Checks and Home Energy Checks, Age UK is addressing these fuel poverty factors to help older people keep warm and well in the winter.
Our approach: Warm Homes
Age UK receives funding from energy suppliers through Ofgem’s industry initiative. In turn, Age UK funds local partners across England and Wales, who deliver the Warm Homes programme in their local area.
Our Warm Homes programme targets the most vulnerable and fuel poor older people. To be classed as ‘in or at risk of fuel poverty’ an older person must be over 65 years of age and at least one of the following:
- on a low income (means-tested benefits or on an income below £16,190 per annum)
- have a long-term health condition
- live in a ‘hard to heat home’.
The Warm Homes programme helps in 3 key ways:
1. Benefit Entitlement Checks
We help older people apply for the benefits they are entitled to through Benefit Entitlement Checks. Maximising income lessens the financial burden and stress of paying energy bills when the weather is cold.
- In 2020/21, our local partners identified over £51 million of unclaimed benefits within 6 months. This worked out on average as over £3000 per year for each older person who had a Benefit Entitlement Check.
2. Home Energy Checks
A Home Energy Check includes:
- an assessment of the home to see where small measures can be installed to keep older people warmer and save money
- energy advice and practical tips to help keep fuel bills down.
A trusted handyperson will visit an older person’s home to check how efficient it is. The handyperson fits appropriate equipment to increase the energy and thermal efficiency in the home. This includes things like energy saving light bulbs, draught excluders, and reflective radiator panels
3. Providing advice
As part of our Benefit Entitlement Checks and Home Energy Checks, local partners will also:
- provide advice on keeping warm and saving energy
- offer free Age UK information guides that may be useful
- refer older people to local services you may find helpful.
If you or a loved one need help to keep your home warm, read our energy advice or search for a local service.
What are people saying about the programme?
"Having the Age UK benefits check has made a huge difference to my life. With that little bit of extra money, it’s enabled me to buy things that make my life easier."
"The Home Energy Check made a significant difference to me, it’s such a brilliant idea. None of the doors fitted properly but now that the draft excluders are on, they all shut properly so it’s so much warmer…I don’t remember things too well but I know I’m definitely much warmer in here now, nice and cosy."
Warm and Well
The Warm and Well programme helped older people maximise their income, improve energy efficiency and stay warm. Support came through benefit advice sessions and support in completing benefit claim forms. Learn more.