Keep Warm – Keep Well

Real tips to save energy, save money and keep well…

“There is lots of advice given over social media about saving energy, but not all of it is correct, and some just repeats old myths. One is that most of your body’s heat escapes through your head. It doesn’t! Only about 10% is lost through your head. Wearing a hat is a good idea but more important to wear layers of clothing.”

Says Island resident and National Heat Hero, Ray Harrington-Vail, who works for the local Footprint Trust charity.

Another one is that most of the heat escapes from the roof or windows of your home, both wrong. Walls account for around 33% of heat loss, roof about 26% and windows around 18%. Good idea to insulate the whole house to really save money, the cost paid back in 5 years. Double glazing a good idea but payback will take much longer, but will also make your home more secure.

The debate about what temperature to keep your home is repeated every winter. Ideally you should try and keep some heating in all rooms, this helps prevent damp. But if you are on a limited budget then this is unrealistic.


If you are fit and young then the NHS suggests that you do not need to keep your home at a minimum of 18C. In fact they suggest your children’s bedroom should be between 16C and 20C. Young children and babies can be put in danger from overheating. The NHS comments on the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, “Babies don’t need hot rooms. All-night heating is rarely necessary. Keep the room at a temperature that’s comfortable for you at night – about 18C (65F) is ideal.”

For older people or for those with medical issues then keeping their living space and bedroom between 18C and 21C is recommended.

Lock the heat into your living space and bedroom, don’t waste money heating the hall or corridor. Keep doors closed.

For rooms not being used, then keep the heat on low, leave cupboard doors and drawers slightly open to allow air-flow. Try to open the window for a 10 minutes every day, to ventilate vacant rooms.

Ventilation must also be thought of to reduce infection levels in the home from flu or air-borne viruses such as Covid. Regular airing of inhabited rooms by opening windows for short periods of time can be effective at reducing concentrations of viruses in the air. SAGE have suggested having them open for 10 minutes every hour.

If you have gas central heating use it, don’t be fooled by marketing spin that electric heating is cheaper, it isn’t. Likewise with Night Storage Heaters, don’t use more expensive stand-alone heaters, and avoid unvented portable gas heaters. Get a carbon monoxide alarm for each room with a gas appliance, boiler or sold fuel burner. Have you boiler serviced every year to keep you safe, save energy and to make it last longer.

Some of grandma’s old tips are as relevant today as they were yesterday. So closing thick curtains at dusk will help prevent heat loss through windows. We now also have the option of fitting much cheaper thermal blackout blinds, which can be purchase from a number of on-line retailers. Charity shops can be a good place to find thick curtains when they reopen. Making a ‘door sausage’ to prevent draughts from blowing under your door is a winner. These can be made from a leg of an old pair of jeans or trousers, then stuffed with other old rags.

The Footprint Trust tells hundreds of Islanders every year about the £140 Warm Home Discount. Those receiving guarantee pension credit automatically get this sum taken off their electricity bill, providing they are with a leading supplier. Other householders have to apply to their energy company. So important to contact your utility company and see if you qualify.

Other free help is also available from water and energy companies through their Priority Services Register. This is for any household that has a vulnerable person living there. In the event of power or water failure you will be contacted to see if you need help. This can be done on line;    or by phone on 0800 294 3259.

The Footprint Trust charity has been helping local people throughout the pandemic via its helpline on 822282. They have provided over £10,000 worth of grants to help people with energy issues.

Their work is funded by a number of bodies including; The National Lottery Community Fund, Energy Industry Voluntary Redress Scheme, HM Government and the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Community Foundation. Individual donations and those from the business community have also assisted their work.

Local charity helps over 1700 residents

The Trustees of the local Footprint Trust charity have praised their staff for assisting over 1,700 vulnerable ‘fuel poor’ Islanders, during the last year, through more effective use of energy in their homes. The recent Annual General Meeting of the charity also reported that a total of £114,000 had been saved by clients thanks to the expert guidance of staff, which also lead to huge reductions in CO2. In total some 340 households were visited. People were given tailored guidance and information on correct use of appliances and heating systems, grants for insulation and white goods, along with discounts on utilities and help with switching suppliers. Frontline worker training was provided to staff and volunteers from other organisations, to bring about greater understanding of fuel poverty on the Island. Monergy workshops were held in a number of venues giving people skills to cut their bills.

One of the many case studies was shared highlighting how *Claire had been assisted by the Trust.

“*Claire is a single parent of a young girl. Her privately rented accommodation has gas central heating but with a system boiler. The Electricity was on a prepayment meter, with debt being repaid at an unaffordable weekly rate. We spoke with the company, changed the rate and the tariff, and applied for the Warm Home Discount of £140.  The visit highlighted that the gas central heating was not being used much at all, with plug in electric heaters used instead, so we were able to explain the high costs involved and savings that could be made. We explained the gas central heating programmable controls, and how to make use of thermostatic radiator valves. In addition, the hot water tank was poorly lagged, and the loft hatch was being routinely left open. We explained the reasons to change this, to save money, and to be more comfortable in the home.

We provided a free hot water tank jacket. There was considerable debt on the gas account too, it was a credit meter but had not been read for a long time. It was in the wrong name and on a costly tariff. We negotiated a plan, to set up an affordable way forward, and put her on a cheaper tariff.”

Reported Laura Stichbury, the Assistant Manager of the Trust.

The charity already holds the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the MBE for charities, for their pioneering work in the community. This year the Trust won the 2020 Vulnerable Customer Support Campaigner of the Year accolade in the regional Energy Efficiency Awards.

The success of the charity’s work was however tinged with some sadness with the loss of their highly regarded colleague Helen Williams. Helen was the friendly voice giving guidance over the phone to our clients, and giving support and training to staff and sharing her many years of experience in her many caring roles. Helen came to work for the Trust following a long career in the private and public sectors. She brought her experience on green transport, working on school travel plans and encouraging people to explore their local environment through walking, via her Acorn Steps project. Having been a mum on low income she was well qualified to give practical guidance to young parents in a similar position struggling with energy bills. She put her vivacious and energetic personality into all of the projects she delivered and used her excellent people skills to encourage and support both team members and clients. Helen faced her cancer diagnosis with tenacity, humour and unblinking positivity. As she became more unwell, she trained others to take over her many roles within the charity. She gradually worked fewer hours until finally she was admitted to the hospice for the last time. She died in March 2020, aged 59.

The meeting thanked the Daisie Rich Trust and the town, parish and community councils which support the Trust’s work.  Wight Community Energy assisted with funding home energy visits, the People’s Postcode Trust contributed towards staff and other core costs. SSE Networks Resilient Communities Fund funding expanded work in remote areas of the Island effected by power outages and rural isolation. The Energy Industry Voluntary Redress Scheme commenced funding fuel poverty prevention and relief through outreach, training and practical guidance. The Trustees also expressed thanks to the many individuals who have made donations which has helped fund extra help to many vulnerable local people, further assisted by the Hampshire & IW Community Foundation. Many other national charitable bodies also gave grants, which are listed in the annual accounts.

Anyone with concerns about their utility bills can contact The Footprint Trust by email or by phone (01983) 822282.

Green Island Grants – insulate to save money and the planet

The Footprint Trust has teamed up with the Isle of Wight Council to help householders on the Island make the homes warmer and cheaper to heat. The charity is concerned that many households this winter will be making choices between heating and eating, due to finances being hit as a result of the Covid pandemic. Continue reading Green Island Grants – insulate to save money and the planet


The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation (HIWCF) has launched the Surviving Winter 2020-2021 campaign to help tackle fuel poverty for older and vulnerable people struggling to keep warm at winter time.


Green Island Grant brings £500,000 to warm up households

Homeowners on the island could receive up to £10,000 towards the cost of making their homes warmer and more energy efficient.

The Isle of Wight will be one of the first places in the country to benefit from a new allocation of government money – thanks to a successful bid by the Isle of Wight Council.

Continue reading Green Island Grant brings £500,000 to warm up households

Free event to help post-Covid Islanders

Island charities and help organisations are holding a free event to help people hit financially by the Covid-19 crises. The event will take place in the Trafalgar Room at the Riverside Centre on Newport Quay, on Thursday 15th October from 9.30am to 1.30pm.

It is organised by the local Footprint Trust and the Islehelp Partnership. Those attending include; Citizens Advice, AgeUK, IW Foodbank, People Matter, SSAFA and the Isle of Wight Council. Continue reading Free event to help post-Covid Islanders