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Help for North Londoners living in cold homes

People living in poor quality, cold housing in the Waltham Forest area could be about to get help, as part of the ‘Breathe Easy’ project.

Community energy charity, HEET has been awarded a £96,400 grant from the Cadent Foundation to work with NHS health teams and agencies such as Citizens Advice and Age UK, as well as private landlords, to identify fuel poor households whose respiratory health is affected by these living conditions.  

Damp homes provide the ideal environment for dust and other mites which can impact respiratory illnesses, whilst mould produces allergens and toxins which can be harmful to residents.   Condensation, damp and mould are closely linked to fuel poverty and are often caused by under heating, poor insulation, inadequate ventilation and overcrowding. 

The health impacts of poor quality housing are estimated to cost the NHS around £2billion each year according to the ‘Housing and Health’ report produced by the Kings Fund in 2018.

Over the next two years, the funding from the Cadent Foundation will be used to treat mould growth, provide tailored energy advice and install demand-controlled ventilation systems as part of a package of heating and insulation measures for these households.

Eradicating condensation and mould and improving energy efficiency in the homes of those with respiratory conditions, will enhance the quality of life of residents, reduce fuel poverty and lower carbon emissions.

Arguing that a whole house approach is needed, HEET Co-ordinator, Tom Ruxton, said:

Making homes more air-tight helps lower carbon emissions and household fuel bills but can make problems of condensation, damp and mould worse.    

Homes that are insulated, well-ventilated and efficient to heat, remain warm and dry and provide a safe and healthy environment for vulnerable residents.  If households are additionally provided with good quality energy advice that is appropriate to their circumstances, their fuel bills can be reduced and condensation managed.  Housing related ill-health, unlike many social issues, is solvable with the correct technical interventions. 

It’s hoped the project will support more than 600 fuel poor households over the next two years, resulting in energy cost savings of £250,000 and lifetime carbon savings of 3000 tonnes through energy efficiency improvements.

Julia Dwyer, Director of the Cadent Foundation, said:

One in ten households across the country cannot afford to live in a warm, dry home and there is a clear correlation between poor quality housing, fuel poverty and ill health.  The Breathe Easy project offers practical solutions which will have long term benefits both to the individuals and health services in the region.

Photo: Cadent Foundation/HEET