Millions of people are vulnerable to harm if they are living in a cold home. Over 10,000 people die each year as a result of living in cold homes in England and Wales. It includes people with respiratory diseases, cardio-vascular diseases and illnesses affecting the immune system. For example, arthritis, asthma, COPD and those undergoing chemotherapy. The NHS spends over £1billion treating illnesses caused and exacerbated by cold homes.
But how could we solve this? What could a solution look like?
ESC designed and tested a service where vulnerable energy consumers were delivered a warm home over winter 2019-2020. We trialled this prototype this winter with a small number of homes, outside of the Living Lab, in the West Midlands.
We tested two assumptions:
We designed and prototyped a service we called Warmth on Prescription which allowed people to heat their home to ‘healthy temperatures’ at no additional cost to them.
We used the NHS recommended indoor temperatures.
This service is modeled on the idea that people pay a set amount for prescriptions despite different medicines costing different amounts.
We chose to test this with the people who are most likely to experience detriment if they cannot heat their homes to healthy temperatures – those with respiratory illnesses made worse by the cold.
Health care practitioners liked the idea.
People felt healthier and more comfortable.