Category Archives: Heating/Energy

NHS Crisis ? Cruise ships sound better equipped to cope with demand from the elderly at this time of year

One cruise line says: “In fact, the medical care on cruise ships today has really become quite sophisticated,” he says. “We can treat heart attacks with the latest clot-busting drugs. We can treat respiratory failure with intubation and ventilation. We can treat severe hemorrhage or bleeding with blood transfusions.”

Cruise line medical facilities


Other cruise lines spell out what is available – e.g. Cunard Line
“Each ship has a Medical Centre on board, supported by fully qualified doctors and nurses who can assist with general medical issues and emergency situations.”

Further advice is available from The Cruise Critic

It is clear that the cruise lines are anticipating a large increase in demand.

And think of the other savings which may be achievable by taking a cruise, as spelt out by our resident advisor Bertie Bazart

Our comment: These comments are made with a degree of ‘tongue in cheek’, but worth considering.

Elderly advised to use a hot water bottle to counteract low winter temperatures

MILLIONS of older people struggling to pay their energy bills should heat just one room in the day to get through the winter, new advice says today.
The official guidance tells the elderly to warm the living room and then their bedroom at night – and use a hot water bottle.

Other tips include wearing slippers with lots of thin layers of clothes to keep out the cold with regular hot meals and drinks through the day.

The new advice suggests the elderly heat their homes to at least 64.4F (18C) to protect their health.

The quality of this advice to pensioners is on about the same level as our light hearted advice on saving energy costs:

But angry campaigners for the rights of older people say many are forced to choose whether to “heat or eat” as bills soar.

Last year’s cold weather saw 31,100 excess deaths – or around 260 a day, mainly among over-75s. Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “It is shocking that each winter an older person dies every seven minutes from cold weather.

“Turning up the heating is not an option for many older people struggling with high energy bills.”

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Our comment: we have probably all come across cases where pensioners live in a too cold environment when they could afford to use more heating. A challenge for our powers of persuasion.

You may be entitled to £140 discount on your electricity bill through the Warm Home Discount Scheme

More pensioners will get money off energy bills this winter as the Warm Homes Discount Scheme is extended.

Around 112,000 now qualify, up from 94,000 last year, with the discount being increased from £135 to £140.

It comes on top of cold weather payments and winter fuel allowances, and some working age people on low incomes may also qualify.

UK Pensions Minister Steve Webb said the aim was to ensure the poorest households got the support they need.

“As we approach winter, no-one should have to go without heating because they can’t afford the bills,” he said.

“That’s why we have significantly extended the Warm Home Discount Scheme – and increased its value – to give people peace of mind that they can keep their homes comfortable throughout the coldest months.”

It has now been extended to all people receiving Pension Credit Guarantee Credit, who will see a one-off discount taken from their energy bills some time between October and March.

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Bills rise for 8m British Gas customers

British Gas’ price rise will effect almost 8 million customers today, forcing them to pay an extra £131 a year for their energy. We list the cheapest deals for those who want to switch.

Millions will begin paying nearly 10pc more for the energy they use from today, just as winter begins to bite.

British Gas, Britain’s largest energy supplier, will put in place a 9.2pc increase that was announced last month, resulting in the average household having to fork out an extra £131 a year for gas and electricity.

Price comparison site,, said the price rise will affect almost eight million customers.
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Bitter conditions linked to deaths of additional 31,000 people last winter – up one third

There was a 29 per cent increase in deaths linked to the cold weather last winter, new figures have revealed.

According to a report by the Office for National Statistics, “excess winter deaths” in England and Wales rose by almost a third compared with the previous year, with 31,000 additional deaths.

The figures follow a bitterly cold start to the year.

This March was the coldest since 1962, with an average monthly temperature of just 2.6C (36.7F).

In March, 1,582 people died every single day – 14 per cent higher than average, the report states.

“The increased level of excess winter mortality coincided with a decrease in the average winter temperature,” the report states.

“This suggests that the higher levels of excess winter mortality in 2012/13 may be due to a particularly prolonged winter with lower than average temperatures in February and March.

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Energy company SSE’s profits surge by nearly 40% weeks after 9% rise in bills

SSE, the energy company behind Southern Electric, Swalec and Scottish Hydro, has revealed a leap in profits of almost 40%, just a month after announcing a 9% increase in bills.

The UK’s second-largest generator of electricity said its £398m half-year profit was necessary to “make investments that keep the lights on”. However, consumer groups, and even rival energy providers, questioned the scale of the increase.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which? consumer magazine, said it bolstered the case for an independent review of gas and electricity charges.

“Without greater scrutiny of energy prices, consumers simply will not believe that they’re getting a good deal,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Co-op’s fledgling energy business warned that the SSE results would further alienate customers. “Announcements of huge profit increases for shareholders do nothing to help the tarnished image of UK energy industry or get to grips with consumer concerns,” said Nigel Mason, of Co-operative Energy. “This profit announcement off the back off a 9% bill increase will be a bitter pill for SSE customers to swallow.”

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Britain ‘on the brink’ of energy crisis, warns regulator

Energy crisis

Households must prepare for a sharp rise in energy bills within two years as Britain comes “dangerously” close to power shortages, the chief executive of Ofgem has warned.

The country would become more reliant on foreign gas to generate electricity as European Union pollution laws meant the dirtiest coal-fired stations had to shut, said Alistair Buchanan, the regulator’s outgoing head.

He pointed out that gas was already 60 per cent more expensive in countries such as Japan that relied on imports. It was impossible to predict how high bills could go for British households, he said.

Ministers admitted that Britain faced a “looming energy gap” but blamed the previous government for agreeing to shut coal plants too quickly.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, admitted that consumers could feel a “pinch” starting within two years. The Government was fighting to “keep the lights on”, he insisted.

Mr Buchanan warned that the “near-crisis” would occur between 2015 and 2018, pushing up bills. Blackouts were “not likely” but there would be a “double squeeze” on energy prices.

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Is inflation making you poorer?

The rate of Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation in the UK rose slightly to 3.1% in December, up from a rate of 3.0% the month before.

But your personal rate of inflation may not match the official rate of inflation. Use the BBC calculator to get a more accurate picture of how inflation affects you.

The calculator was developed with the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Information entered is safe, as it stays on your computer.

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Soaring fuel bills lead to fuel poverty warning to PM

Up to 9million families ‘will be in fuel poverty by 2016’ without action to insulate homes, campaigners warn PM

More than 100 energy firms, charities, unions and retailers demand tougher action to tackle ‘national disgrace’
6million families spend more than 10% of income on heating but could hit 9million by 2016 without action on energy efficiency
Government schemes ‘not enough’ to deal with soaring fuel bills
Big Freeze to last another four days causing chaos on the roads and trains
Soaring energy bills could force another 3million families into fuel poverty without urgent action from the government, David Cameron is warned today.

As temperatures plummet across Britain, an alliance of more than 100 energy firms, charities, unions and private business is urging the Prime Minister to order a massive programme to tackle the insulate homes across Britain.

Campaigners say 6million families already spend more than 10 per cent of their income on heating their homes – the definition of being in fuel poverty – but predict it could hit 9million within three years.

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Are you entitled to £130 off your heating bill?

There is still time to apply for the Warm Home Discount, which is a scheme funded by the large energy suppliers to help vulnerable people with their heating bills in the winter.

The scheme is expected to help around 2 million people annually until 2015 and in this year the rebate available is £130.

Mervyn Kohler, Special Advisor at Age UK, explains the scheme: ‘People on guaranteed pension credit or, if over 80, pension credit should receive the rebate automatically through the core group funding.’

‘However, if you are in receipt of other benefits then you check with your supplier, as there is a “broader group” with criteria set by the supplier.’

‘It is definitely worth checking as £130 can make a great difference with the rising cost of energy in the UK.’

The electricity suppliers involved in this scheme are:

  • Atlantic
  • British Gas
  • EDF Energy
  • E.ON
  • Equipower
  • Manweb
  • M&S Energy
  • npower
  • Sainsbury’s Energy
  • Scottish Gas
  • Scottish Hydro
  • ScottishPower
  • Southern Electric
  • SSE
  • Swalec
  • Utility Warehouse

Find out more


Fuel poverty could affect a further 300,000

Around 300,000 more households are likely to in ‘fuel poverty’ by Christmas thanks to recent increases in energy prices, according to an advisory body.

The Fuel Poverty Advisory Group (FPAG) is calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to take stronger and more ambitious action to tackle ‘spiralling’ fuel poverty levels.

The group said recent price rises have resulted in a 7% increase in average annual energy bills and direct debit customers now pay £1,247 per year, while those paying by cash and cheque pay £1,336.

Recent estimates have shown that over nine million households could be living in fuel poverty by 2016, according to the FPAG.

It said that nearly half of the households currently considered to be in fuel poverty – which is defined as having to spend over 10% of income on heating – are older people.

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