Call to reduce county’s winter deaths

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A campaign has been launched this week to call for more to be done to reduce fuel poverty and the high number of excess winter deaths in Northumberland due to living in cold conditions.

Cold Homes Week aims to raise awareness of the issue and seek the support of the country’s politicians to make UK homes much more energy efficient.

There were 100 excess winter deaths recorded in 2012/13 in Northumberland, where deaths are above the average rate during non-winter periods, mostly due to elderly people dying from being too cold.

Cold Homes Week is run by the Energy Bill Revolution (EBR), an alliance of over 200 major charities, businesses and organisations, working to combat fuel poverty.

OFTEC, the trade body for the oil-fired heating industry, is supporting the initiative by urging residents across Northumberland to sign up to the campaign at www.energybillrevolution.org

It will also be contacting political parties and rural MPs to highlight the fuel poverty issue and call for more action to be taken.

Around 23,000 households in Northumberland rely on oil for their central heating and the majority are older, rural properties with inadequate insulation. Therefore, even though oil prices have hit a four year low and are continuing to fall, these households are more likely to be in fuel poverty due to poor energy efficiency.

A free booklet, produced by OFTEC and Age UK, which advises households on how to maximise their heat over winter, can be downloaded at www.oilsave.org.uk