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York residents set for insulation help

With the trees turning brown, the days getting shorter and the cricket season over, there is no doubt that autumn is now upon us. 

While for some that may bring the excitement of pumpkins, bonfires and the onset of Christmas shopping, for others it brings deep concerns about how the cold weather will place them in the difficult situation of choosing between keeping the home warm or the energy bills down. 

The issue of fuel poverty rears its ugly - and frosty - head every winter and as well as hitting people in the pocket, the situation can have serious knock-on effects for health. Those who keep the heating off are more likely to suffer sickness or even death as a result of the cold. 

For this reason, many local authorities are taking what steps they can to try to help those with colder homes to stay warmer in winter for less. That means more efficient heating - such as new boilers - but also, above all, more and better insulation.

York City Council has announced an initiative that aims to specifically target certain areas of the city perceived to be in greatest need with grants to help pay for loft and cavity wall insulation. 

The scheme will concentrate on the Micklegate, Guildhall, Fishergate, Holgate and Clifton wards, while other help will be available to different parts of the city, such as assistance to replace old boilers, the York Press reports.

Commenting on the plan, executive member for housing and safer neighbourhoods at York City Council Sam Lisle said: “Winter heating bills might not be on our minds yet, but it’s important that as many people as possible go into winter this year with improved insulation. 

"As many as 130 people die from the effects of living in cold homes in the city every winter and we hope to help vulnerable householders live in homes that are comfortably and affordably warm." 

He added that 15 households have already been helped by the insulation scheme. 

The scheme in York echoes many that have operated in other cities up and down the UK. 

In glasgow, for example, the city council recently announced a new £6 million scheme aimed at insulated properties in selected areas of high deprivation. The new initiative will help both tenants and homeowners, with the latter having previously been excluded from such help.

The result of this will be that around 700 households in the Haghill, Riddrie, Craigton, Scotstoun, Yoker, Eastwood, Mansewood and Barmulloch areas will be given help.

In a report to councillors last month, city convenor for neighbourhoods and housing Kenny McLean said: "The schemes will assist owners to participate in RSL improvement schemes where there are mixed-tenure blocks and allow the council to deliver projects in wholly owned private schemes, particularly non-traditional type housing."

Many, many more schemes could be listed all over Britain, but these are not the only opportunities to address the problem of a lack of insulation that still blights a significant part of Britain's housing stock.

Energy firm E.On made a high-profile offer to fit free insulation to any householders in need of it last month. It said it was necessary to be a customer of the firm to be able to receive this. 

Based on Energy Saving Trust figures, it said the typical household could save £285 a year on fuel bills with this help.