New research has demonstrated the ‘life-changing’ impact of bringing energy efficient heating improvements to people at risk of cold-related ill health

Date:  01/07/2020

Contact  Mike Potter (Communications and Campaigns Officer) 07595410756/

New research has demonstrated the ‘lifechanging’ impact of heating improvements to people at risk of cold-related ill health.

 The Connecting Homes for Health pilot project was delivered by fuel poverty charity National Energy Action, Northern Gas Networks and YES Energy Solutions. In what’s believed to be an industry first, it combined funding from the Fuel Poor Network Extension Scheme and Warm Home Discount Industry Initiatives to install free gas connections and central heating systems in over 100 properties in the North East of England whose residents were on low incomes and at risk of cold-related ill health. Residents also benefited from support and energy advice on how to use their new systems effectively, improve energy efficiency and reduce fuel bills.

Dr Jamie-Leigh Rosenburgh, who led the research on behalf of NEA said:

“It’s widely acknowledged that warm homes can save lives, but sadly there is still not enough being done to really address this. With the grim prospect of a second wave of Covid-19 this winter, it’s vital that we do everything we can to make homes warmer, safer and healthier. Thanks to Northern Gas Networks and Warm Home Discount Industry Initiatives funding we were able to bring warmth and comfort to more than 100 households. We hope that Health and Social Care agencies, Ofgem and others will learn from the research so projects like these can bring huge benefits to many more people. ‘’ 

The research project tested and measured not only the impacts of the support on the health and wellbeing of vulnerable residents, but also aimed to understand the wider potential for incorporating health-based eligibility criteria into measures-based schemes. The results demonstrate clear and significant impacts. Before receiving help, more than 8 out of 10 participants felt that their health was affected by being unable to keep warm at home, which reduced to less than 1 out of 10 after intervention. They also reported improvements in how easy their new systems were to use, how affordable they found their energy bills and how well they could keep their homes warm.

One participant remarked:

“The scheme has just literally changed my life. The improvement in my health has changed my life.” Another said: “It’s been fantastic. It’s the best thing I ever got done, because if I hadn’t gotten it done, I’d be sitting here freezing now. I’d have no money in the bank and I would probably owe my energy supplier a fortune. It’s made my life a whole lot better.” 

The study also demonstrates the wider potential of tackling health inequalities by combining funding in this way, and provides insights and recommendations on how future schemes could be shaped.

Mark Horsley, Chief Executive of Northern Gas Networks said:

“This research demonstrates the significant financial and health-related benefits that can be achieved by bringing vulnerable households onto the gas network and helping them to access both first time gas central heating measures and dedicated advice and support. It shows that  the Fuel Poor Network Extension Scheme (FPNES), and associated activities, are important lifelines to bring affordable warmth to thousands of households each year. 

NGN will continue to support and deliver vital assistance via FPNES through  our next regulatory period and beyond, and will  work with the Government, Ofgem and NEA to ensure the learning from this vital research helps NGN and our partners make homes healthy and warm both now and into the future.”

The full report is available at



  1. National Energy Action (NEA) works across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure that everyone in the UK can afford to live in a warm and safe home. We aim to improve access to energy and debt advice, provide training, support energy efficiency policies and co-ordinate other related services which can help change lives. NEA’s campaigning and policy work seeks to channel the in-house expertise gained from our delivery and research work in order to better inform national policies and policy makers to end fuel poverty across the UK.


  1. Northern Gas Networks (NGN)are a Gas Distribution Network operating in the North of England (covering the North East, Northern Cumbria and much of Yorkshire). They transport gas to 2,700,000 customers. NGN commissioned the research element of the Connecting Homes for Health Project and were responsible for providing gas grid connections to participant households (funding for gas central heating measures and energy efficiency advice was provided through Warm Home Discount Industry Initiatives).


  1. YES Energy Solutions is a Community Interest Company who, as part of their work, help households to reduce fuel bills and save energy by providing energy efficiency services. YES were responsible for the installation of gas central heating systems in properties participating in the project.


  1. Excess winter deaths compare the number of deaths that occurred during the winter period with the average number of deaths occurring in the preceding August to November, and the following April to July. EWD due to cold homes are calculated as 30% of the overall figure (World Health Organisation, 2011).


  Eng & Wal Scotland N. Ireland UK Cold Homes related
2009/2010 25,660 2,760 940 29,360 8808
2010/2011 25,960 2,450 740 29,150 8745
2011/2012 24,040 1,420 500 25,960 7788
2012/2013 31,150 2,000 560 33,710 10113
2013/2014 17,280 1,600 590 19,470 5841
2014/2015 43,720 4,060 870 48,650 14595
2015/2016 24,500 2,850 640 27,990 8397
2016/2017 34,410 2,720 960 38,090 11427
2017/2018 49,410 4,810 1,500 55,720 16716
2018/2019 23,200 2,060 25,260 7578
Total 299,330 26,730 7,300 333,360 100008
  1. Last year, the UK Government published a consultation on an updated strategy to achieve statutory requirements to help fuel poor households. An updated strategy is vital as progress towards this target is currently flat-lining and only 10% of all fuel poor households meet statutory 2030 energy efficiency requirement and approximately 200,000 of the poorest households still need to spend £2000-£2800 keeping warm. The latest annual fuel poverty statistics report for 2020 (with 2018 data) is available at


  1. Within the new statistics release, the Government says in light of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, that it has taken the decision to temporarily delay publication of the Government response to the fuel poverty strategy 2019 consultation. They now plan to publish the Government response to consultation, the updated Fuel Poverty Strategy for England and related documents later this year. NEA contoues to highlight the value of first time central heating as a key measure to help end fuel poverty and are calling on the Government to follow through with their manifesto proposals to invest in warmer and healthier homes.



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