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Hannah’s story

An elderly woman sits on a chair in her living room and smiles at the camera
31 January 2022

Hannah was referred to our Home Energy Team as her home was draughty and she felt it no longer suited her needs. Here’s her story and how we helped her.

Hannah* shares her experience when she contacted CSE’s energy advice service.

I felt uncomfortable in my flat due to a lack of draught-proofing around the windows. My landlord provided storage heaters that help, but the draughts were still there. As I suffer from arthritis that feels worse when I’m cold, it’s made me think whether my flat is still suitable for me.

Western Power Distribution (now National Grid) referred me to Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) Home Energy Team, where a friendly advisor spoke with me about my worries, supported me with energy advice and access to other benefits which have greatly improved things. The advisor encouraged me to contact my building manager to arrange draught-proofing measures for my windows, as this can be done simply and cheaply. They told me this will help keep my flat warm and save me up to £30 a year on my bills.

I’ve also had problems with condensation in my bathroom. The CSE advisor provided a factsheet about damp and mould, so I now know exactly what to do. The advisor also gave me energy advice including things like how regularly defrosting my freezer can save me up to £150 a year, which is helpful to know.

I explained that I find it hard to keep on top of my meter readings because the meter is difficult for me to reach due to my age (81 years young!) and arthritis. I wasn’t aware that my energy supplier also provides priority services to vulnerable customers. With a phone call, now I can arrange for someone to come by and take a quarterly meter reading for me, keeping my bills up to date without overexerting myself. My supplier hasn’t been able to install a smart meter for me yet because of my Economy 7 tariff.

Ongoing support

In addition to being unable to get to the meter, I mentioned I have fallen multiple times in the shower. It’s worrying because I live alone and fear for my safety. The advisor told me about an Occupational Therapy assessment that I can arrange with my GP. Additional aids such as grab rails and care alarms can be installed to reduce the risk of falling and make me feel less vulnerable when home alone. The advisor gave me leaflets about Age UK’s housing options if I am still keen to move, which makes weighing up my options much easier. I also received helpful information about the charity Versus Arthritis.

I was about to sell my car to pay for a mobility scooter, making trips to the shops easier, but my advisor explained I was eligible for a trade union benevolent fund because of my previous career. They made this really simple for me to do by sending me the application form to fill in. In the meantime, I’ve reached out to a community helpline to help me with my shopping.

I am so thankful for the support I have received from CSE. I wouldn’t have known about so many of the things my adviser helped me access if I hadn’t called. My home is warmer, and not only have I saved £180 so far, but I feel so much safer and more comfortable in my home. And, if I do decide to move, I now know I will be supported.

*Names have been changed for privacy

Do you need support?

Hannah is one of many customers helped by Power Up, a programme aiming to fight fuel poverty and give everyone the joy of a warm and happy home.

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