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Margaret’s story

An older lady is sitting on the floor of her living room
5 October 2023

Margaret, who is blind and with health problems, was referred to our energy advice service by Salisbury District Hospital.

After concerns about Margaret’s health at home, Salisbury District Hospital referred Margaret to our energy advice service. Warm & Safe Wiltshire (W&SW) is one of the Centre for Sustainable Energy’s (CSE) local projects. W&SW helps people living in Wiltshire with free energy advice and support. This includes behaviour changes to ongoing help with debt management and funding.

Initial concerns flagged by Margaret’s health provider

Margaret is blind and has a respiratory condition, which is exacerbated by the cold. A Home from Hospital Coordinator called Margaret to see how she was getting on at home after being discharged from the hospital. It came to light that Margaret relies on a stair lift and has really old, inefficient electric storage heaters. Additionally, her home was described as ‘really cold’ by her family, which is damaging to Margaret’s health.

Salisbury District Hospital referred Margaret to W&SW who could assess her home heating system. It was clear that Margaret’s electric storage heaters could do with an upgrade as they were expensive to run. An energy efficient system would not only save Margaret energy but also money as her energy bills would be lower. Margaret could then use the money she saved to ensure her home was warm, without worrying about increased bills. Our W&SW caseworker applied to the Wiltshire Installs project for financial support for the new installation.

Our tailored energy advice and support

Due to Margaret’s health conditions – including being registered as blind – she felt more comfortable that our caseworker spoke with her family to arrange the work needed. This isn’t a problem as our caseworkers want people to feel at ease. Therefore, as her nominated contacts, her family were involved throughout the process.

The hospital and our caseworker believed Margaret would benefit by being put on the Priority Services Register (PSR). Every Distribution Network Operator has a PSR, which gives their vulnerable clients additional help and support during unexpected issues, such as a blackout. Our caseworker signed Margaret up to make sure she’d get all the help she needed.

Coordinating energy saving measures

Alongside Wiltshire Installs, we obtained quotes and verified that each quote was as it should be. This involved contacting installers to double-check that the work they proposed was suitable.

Liaising with the installers meant that Margaret, and her family, didn’t have to worry about it. Furthermore, she didn’t need to do any research or learn about heating systems. Our caseworkers are knowledgeable and happy to do the legwork to help people feel healthy and happy at home.

Margaret’s new heating system was installed three months after the initial referral. This included conversations to explore options to help Margaret, a home survey, getting multiple quotes from installers and arranging the installation. Her son shared that,

Everything seems great. Mum seems very happy with the heaters… Thanks to Warm & Safe Wiltshire, the whole process from application to installation was very professional, seamless, and painless

Margaret’s son

Thanks to funding from Wiltshire Installs, Margaret didn’t need to pay anything. She received £2,191 for the upgrades, plus an additional £300 from the Energy Support Grant. This is another grant our advisor arranged which goes towards paying her electricity bills.

Funding and finding her own installer would have undoubtedly cost a lot more money, time, and worry. From now on, Margaret is also saving £230 each year due to the energy she’s saving with her updated system.

Do you need help with your heating?

Is your heating system broken or needs updating? Or do you have a family member like Margaret who struggles with a cold home? We can help.

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