FUEL POVERTY CASE STUDY:

John

 

In a first-floor flat on the outskirts of Brighton, John lives alone supported by a modest disability allowance and assistance from a local foodbank, where BHESCo first made contact with him.

One of the foodbank volunteers suggested we speak to John, as he’d not had gas central heating in his home 3 years.

Asked why this was, he said that he’d become angry at having to pay a £100 ‘Standing Charge’ every year for gas that he’d not even used. Consequently, he requested his gas supply to be capped and cut-off, meaning he had no hot water in the property.

He washed using water boiled in the kettle, and used an expensive halogen heater for warmth.

To make matters worse, we discovered that he was on an Economy 7 electricity tariff, which was charging a premium rate for electricity used between 7am and 12am (which was pretty much the only time he used electricity). This meant that it was costing a fortune to power the halogen heater.

Consequently, John could only afford to heat one room in his flat, and so slept in a sleeping bag in the living room during winter. When BHESCo first met him, he seemed very despondent and defeated by the whole situation.

We explained that there were some energy tariffs available that had no standing charge, meaning you only pay for what you use. It took some persuading, but eventually John agreed to give it a go. We arranged for his gas to be reconnected and switched him to a company that has a ‘Zero Standing Charge’ tariff.

Next, we contacted John’s electricity supplier and asked that he be moved onto a Single Rate tariff, which would mean he paid much less for the electricity he was using in the daytime and evening.

While on the phone, we asked if John was eligible for the Warm Home Discount, which happily he was. The Warm Home Discount is a credit payment of £140 toward the electricity bill of eligible customers.

A few months later when we saw John again he had a big smile on his face, recounting how wonderful it had been to have a hot bath again, to sleep in his bed again, and feel warm and comfortable in his flat again. He said he felt like he had more control over his life and was extremely grateful for the help he’d received from BHESCo.

BHESCo will now continue to review John’s tariff every year to guarantee he’s got a good deal, and can afford to heat his home enough to stay warm and healthy.

“The transformation in John’s happiness and wellbeing is remarkable. His was a very clear case of the detrimental impact that fuel poverty can have on someone’s mental health, and it’s hugely rewarding to have helped him so much”

– Dan Curtis, Energy Saving Service Team

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