Home Heat Helpline – Share the Warmth
My Mum is a pensioner and, as she's partially sighted, spends a lot of time at home.
Don't get me wrong, she's fit and well and loves nothing more than working in her garden before sitting down with a well-deserved glass of something to peer at a gruesome murder mystery on ITV3.
When she settles in for the afternoon she puts on her heating and maybe boosts the temperature with a burst of her gas fire. As the nights draw in, her house is lit up - much easier when your eyesight is poor.
She doesn't give it a moment’s thought.
But Mum is one of the lucky ones.
Her house is well-insulated with windows that don't leak. She’s just replaced her back-door for one that doesn't just have better locks but better draught-proofing too. She bought a new kitchen sink when the old hot tap wouldn't stop dripping. Her loft is stuffed with fluffy insulation so the warmth stays trapped inside.
She has her boiler regularly serviced and has both smoke and CO alarms installed, checked and working.
She's on the right tariff for her. Pays monthly by direct debit. Is on the priority register. She gets her winter fuel allowance and any cold weather payments going.
And she has caring friends and neighbours who pop in to see she's fine. Even the men who deliver the groceries look out for her.
You'll gather she's not worried about money or rationing her pension until the next payment arrives. But as I say, she's one of the lucky ones – full state pension; her own occupational pension; and an index-linked widows’ scheme from my late father’s work.
She knows it's not like this for everyone.
Many vulnerable older people - and many young ones too - worry about putting on the heating. They dread running up bills they’re afraid they can't afford. There is still a generation so worried about the thought of debt they'd shiver rather than risk it.
This winter this has to stop.
There are many simple things anyone can do to make their homes cosier and more energy efficient. A lot of them are free. It’s easy to switch to cheaper tariffs and ways to pay that spread the bill. Energy companies may have discounts and support for people who need help most.
But it can seem daunting to find your way through it all, particularly if - like Mum - the small print’s beyond you.
That's where the Home Heat Helpline comes in. HHH is a free, confidential and impartial service that can guide you to the best help for you. The friendly advisers are not salesmen - they are there to help and nothing they suggest will cost a penny.
So, if you are a pensioner, or in receipt of benefits - or can help someone who is - call 0800 33 66 99 today.
Help is only a call or click away so let's make this a warmer winter.