Official statistics published recently, have revealed the shocking scale of excess winter deaths in England and Wales, primarily as a result of poorly insulated homes.
Excess winter deaths are mostly a result of older people being too cold during the winter months. The problem is especially acute in rural areas, where there are typically more older people living and where houses are frequently less well insulated against the cold than in urban areas. The disturbing figures further revealed that last winter 15,900 of the deaths in England and Wales were among people over the age of 65.
To help alleviate the problem, the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC), the trade association for the oil heating industry, has teamed up with charity Age UK, to provide advice to help the elderly better prepare for winter. Together, they have produced a booklet entitled ‘Keeping Warm This Winter’, which is a free information guide that includes tips and advice, useful phone numbers, help with finding a local OFTEC Registered Technician and advice on heating payment schemes for people over the age of 60.
The booklet, which can also be downloaded from the OilSave website, gives advice on keeping warm including the importance of keeping the main living room heated to a temperature of around 21° Celsius and bleeding radiators to ensure the heating system is running efficiently. Homeowners should also get their boiler serviced by an OFTEC registered technician and consider replacing it with a modern, high efficiency boiler, if it is more than ten years old.
Malcolm Farrow, of OFTEC adds, “There is also a concern that rural households that use more expensive heating fuels, such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and electricity, have been turning down their heating in an effort to save money. Whilst homes that use oil heating have been benefitting from the lowest oil prices in over three years, there is still more that must be done to help older people struggling with their fuel costs.”
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK says, “A dangerous combination of high energy costs and poorly insulated homes is leaving around a million older people struggling to keep warm every winter. Those living in rural areas are at even greater risk because so many properties are poorly insulated, making them harder to heat.
“It is vital older people are aware of what support is available to help them stay warm this winter, which is why Age UK and OFTEC have produced a handy ‘Keeping Warm This Winter’ booklet with lots of information and advice.”