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Making your home healthier

Every year in the UK there are about 30,000 deaths due to ‘winter-related illness’ - and we spend about £1 billion treating such illness. Many of these deaths and illnesses could be avoided by tackling the widespread problem of poor insulation and inadequate heating. Here energy conservation expert Derick Gray gives some guidance on what to do.

Energy conservation expert Derick Gray is manager of the Home Energy Advice Team, a charity project helping vulnerable families in Plymouth. As an independent consultant, Derick also provides energy efficiency advice to individuals and businesses in the South West of England.

Cold homes often result when people are worried about high fuel bills they can’t afford. It also commonly occurs when it’s difficult to keep a property at a high enough temperature to fend off the cold. This is known as ‘fuel poverty’, when people have to spend over 10% of their income to keep their homes warm. Unfortunately when a house becomes too expensive to heat, the occupants either no longer bother or end up heating only one or two rooms. The property may then develop damp and condensation problems that in turn lead to mould. The cold living conditions bring their own problems, while mould spores in the air often make normal coughs and colds even worse and can result in serious chest complaints. Older people and the young are at greatest risk.