December 15 2022
An estimated 15 million people are expected to be in fuel poverty by early 20231, with inflation hitting a 45-year high2. Fuel poverty leads to "heat or eat" situations, with residents switching their heating off to afford to eat, increasing their chances of respiratory problems, strokes, and heart attacks3. Additionally, closing windows and vents to keep heat in reduces ventilation and increases humidity which can, over time, lead to mould growth.
Recent tragic news stories have further highlighted the negative impacts of damp or mouldy homes on people's health and wellbeing. Therefore, as this story emphasises, the Housing Ombudsman is encouraging landlords to prioritise damp and mould4 and take a proactive approach to identify potentially "unhealthy" homes.
"Simple, well planned, preventative action could help avoid over 28,000 deaths each year as a result of living in cold homes."
Additionally, a recent news story from Age UK5 has highlighted the impact of cold homes on the NHS. The news article states that "people living in the coldest homes are three times as likely to die from a cold-related illness compared to those in warmer homes" and that the impact of cold homes on older people's health costs the NHS £1.36 billion every year.
Thanks to intelligent technology, identifying cold or damp living conditions that could be putting the health of residents at risk doesn't have to be intrusive, time-consuming, or costly.
Smart IoT environmental monitoring devices enable housing providers to
Working with Sutton Housing Partnership, IoT Solutions Group delivered 150 DORIS care sensors, originally for monitoring reductions in the activity patterns of vulnerable or older people, that could indicate a fall or illness. Following concerns from SHP last winter, IoTSG introduced alerts to extreme temperature lows that can suggest that a resident may be experiencing fuel poverty.
Sunita Gordon, Lead Member for Resources, London Borough of Sutton:
"As part of a trial with IoT Solutions Group and South London Partnership's Innovate Project, we identified that 30 per cent of our residents showed fuel poverty signs last winter.
"Some low temperature alerts went off because residents did not know how to use their heating or the heating needed repair, which meant we could help them.
"Crucially, some people did need help with the cost of their heating, and our Independent Living Officers helped them apply for support so they wouldn't end up cold at home.
"This winter, with rising living and fuel costs, we are worried that even more homes will experience fuel poverty, risking the health and wellbeing of our residents. These sensors are critical to making sure people get the help they need when they need it."
Additionally, following concerns for resident wellbeing during the heatwaves of summer 2022, alerts for extreme heat were also developed and implemented for those Sutton residents with a DORIS care device. High temperatures in homes are also well-known for detrimental effects on individual health and wellbeing, especially for the vulnerable or elderly.
All of this can be achieved whilst reducing the need for costly and time-consuming property surveys that only deliver a snapshot of the overall picture. This IoT monitoring solution has also been adopted by social housing providers looking to monitor the performance of homes before and after retrofit for decarbonisation.
We continue to co-develop our sensors in partnership with housing providers, local authorities, and social care providers to meet the needs and challenges of the difficult times we live in.
If you are looking to quickly and easily identify residents at risk of fuel poverty, damp or mould and want to learn more about the benefits and simplicity of IoT monitoring, please get in touch with our IoT experts or click here for more information.