Warmth on Prescription
Trialing an innovative energy service

Living in a cold home is putting millions of people at risk of ill health

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?

Introducing Warmth on Prescription

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.

The Result

Health care practitioners liked the idea.

  • We spoke to 13 professionals working in the health sector.
  • Healthcare professionals were familiar with indoor temperatures being recommended for those with health conditions.
  • Healthcare professionals felt they would be able to prescribe or tell patients to heat their homes to certain temperatures.
  • However they were worried about whether there was time available to deliver it via GPs.

People felt healthier and more comfortable.

  • Almost all the participants felt more comfortable and healthier, when they experienced warmer temperatures.
  • With their current system, they found it quite hard to control their heating and know what the temperature was. Some people had to ‘work around’ their heating systems to get comfortable.
  • People that had smarter heating controls installed found it much easier to control their heating.
  • One person was too hot at night when following the temperatures and another household didn’t feel able to complete the research.

Come and see us for a friendly

chat over a cuppa.


Cannon House, 18 The Priory Queensway

Birmingham B4 6BS8

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