With the weather decidedly chilly in Ireland at this time of year, it is important that you keep warm and well, especially if you are older and/or have health problems. The Turn2us 'No Cold Homes' campaign, which has been running over the Winter months, aims to highlight any help that is available to help you if you are struggling to pay your heating bills or need help for replacement boilers or repairs.
A useful resource for older people using oil central heating at home is the Keeping Warm in Winter guide, launched in January. The guide has been created by OFTEC, which represents the domestic oil heating and cooking industry in Ireland, and Age Action, the Irish charity that supports older people. It includes tips for keeping warm, information on saving money on oil, getting the best value and help with heating bills that might be available.
Minister of State support
Following the success of the campaign over the past two years, Helen McEntee TD, Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, is lending her support for the first time to highlight the important issue of excess winter deaths and inform those at greatest risk how they can keep safe and warm this winter.
Helen McEntee said: “The OFTEC and Age Action Ireland ‘Keep Warm this Winter’ campaign is a reminder to us all of the importance of ensuring that our older friends and family stay warm during the cold winter months ahead.
"I urge people to check in on older or vulnerable neighbours who may be living alone, to ensure that they are staying safe and well during the cold weather. Congratulations to all of those involved in this important campaign which offers practical advice to those who need it."
Ireland Manager of OFTEC's comments
David Blevings, Ireland Manager of OFTEC, said: “The important issue of supporting older people in winter across Ireland is always a firm focus for OFTEC and we are delighted to launch the campaign with Age Action again and with Minister of State Helen McEntee TD in 2016.
"With approximately 600,000 homes in Ireland using heating oil as their primary heating source, we encourage everyone to pick of the guide, consider your elderly relatives and neighbours, and provide older people with as much information as possible to help them save money and keep warm this winter.
"Oil is one of the cheapest forms of home heating at present but that does not mean it should be used inefficiently. A service by an OFTEC registered technician will ensure your elderly relatives’ boiler will run safely, efficiently and cost-effectively over the winter period."
David Blevings added: “There are also grants available under the Better Energy Homes Scheme from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) for those with older, inefficient oil boilers and the details are contained within the guide and our registered technicians can help older people to take advantage of the grants while they are still available to reduce energy costs and improve energy efficiency.”
Age Action's Head of Advocacy and Communications' comments
Justin Moran, Head of Advocacy and Communications with Age Action said: “Many of the most vulnerable older people rely on oil heating to keep warm.
"But with high numbers of older households struggling to afford the fuel they need, it’s essential that people know what they can do to keep their fuel bills low and stay warm over the winter months.
"We are delighted to support this initiative for a third year and to work with OFTEC to continue to promote health and wellbeing for older people across Ireland.”
If you are struggling to pay your energy bills
You can use the Turn2us Grants Search to find out if you might be eligible for help from a charitable fund, based on your background, circumstances and needs.
If you have a professional or similar occupational background, you might be eligible for help from the Turn2us Elizabeth Finn Fund.
Making your home more energy efficient can also make it warmer and reduce energy bills.
Depending on your circumstances, background and needs, you may also be able to get a grant from a charitable fund to improve the energy efficiency of your home.
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has a Keeping Well and Warm website which provides information on sources of support and advice as well as tips for reducing your energy bills.
Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme (for home owners in Ireland)
The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme aims to improve the energy efficiency and warmth of homes owned by people on low incomes. It is operated by SEAI and replaces the earlier Warmer Homes Scheme.
Full details of the scheme are on the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) website
Source: Age Action press release: Minister launches free Keeping Warm this Winter guide to help older people stay warm