Mrs D has severe rheumatoid arthritis which restricts her mobility, so she decided to invest all her savings in renovating her home in a single row of terrace cottages in rural East Lothian. She paid for the work up-front, including the installation of a wood pellet boiler – but the company went bust and the contractors disappeared with her money, leaving disaster in their wake.

The place was like a building site, the work shoddy and half finished. A partition wall which should have been bricked up was merely patched with wood panelling. The new double glazing was fitted so badly that the windows would not open. Builders’ rubble and debris blocked the drains, so the garden flooded. The boiler was not just faulty, with a counterfeit MCS certificate, it was simply too dangerous to use.

Out of cash and struggling with her health, the crisis was more than Mrs D could deal with. By the time she contacted Home Energy Scotland for advice, she had been living in a stone cottage without heating for over two years. On top of everything else, her electricity supplier was chasing her to pay a bill which seemed far too high. The helpline referred her straight to Changeworks’ Affordable Warmth Team.

Hands on support

Our Affordable Warmth Advisor was able to help in several ways. He contacted the electricity supplier and used the Back Billing Code to show the bill was inaccurate, reducing the amount Mrs D owed by £659. An application to the supplier’s Hardship Fund cleared the remaining debt of £80. The advisor then saved Mrs D a further £140 by helping her to apply for the Warm Home Discount and another £120 by switching her across to a better tariff. Total savings through billing support: £999.

Saving money

Next the advisor turned his attentions to the boiler, helping Mrs D to apply to the British Gas Energy Trust (BGET) for the funds to repair or replace it. Both options were investigated. Two reputable local installers were approached for quotations which were included in the funding application. Over £8,000 was needed. Happily, BGET awarded the maximum amount requested.

The supplier not only installed a new wood pellet boiler to a high standard, they helped to make good some of the mess left behind by the previous tradesmen, calling in favours from other contractors who contributed re-plastering, joinery and other building work. 

Mrs D says, “This is the first winter in my new home where I haven’t been cold. The Affordable Warmth advisor even helped me to get the money for curtains to keep the heat in.”

Find out more about our fuel poverty services and current projects and how they can help.