Plumbers ‘should report cold homes’

nciePlumbers and heating engineers should join in the fight against fuel poverty, new guidelines from National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has suggested.

The report has stated that non-health and social care workers, such as installers, plumbers and heating engineers, visiting cold properties, should help assess the homeowners’ heating needs and advise on the effect living in a cold home can have on welfare.

Recommendations to help tackle cold environments or poor ventilation could be issued, and, with the homeowners’ permission, the installer could refer those at risk for local help.

Training was also recommended for helping to identify those at risk of developing health problem from living in a cold home, with accreditation being given for the skill.

Heating and Hotwater Industry Council external affairs manager, Isaac Occhipinti, said:

“Installers, plumbers, and tradesmen are visiting UK homes throughout the year whether they be servicing central heating systems, fitting new boilers, or simply mending a leaky tap. This trusted band of workmen should become the foot soldiers in the fight against fuel poverty and we are pleased that NICE recognise the role they could play.

“We know that living in a cold home can significantly increase the likelihood of ill health, including high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, influenza, asthma and other respiratory diseases as well as hypothermia. A large proportion of UK housing stock is old and of a poor quality, with inefficient heating systems that due to age, can be expensive to operate. Supporting people to install appropriate measures will not only enhance their living conditions, making their homes warmer but will also have a significant effect on improving their health ultimately reducing the cost burden to the NHS.

“NICE is right to want to engage with installers, plumbers and other tradespeople and the want to do so without the usual bureaucracy and red tape that other organisations require.

“Eight million home visits are made by our members, they see and understand the impacts of fuel poverty and what living in a cold home can do and as a result they are extremely well placed to help make a change.”

nicePaul Hardy, managing director at Baxi, said:

“The new guidelines released by NICE play an important part in helping to remind communities of the dangers of living in a home that isn’t properly heated, especially if the occupant is vulnerable or elderly.

“Heating engineers and plumbers visit thousands of people every day as they work to maintain the essential services of heating and hot water, and we join NICE in encouraging them to take the necessary action if they think their customers are at risk.

“However, for the idea to work properly, local councils must ensure that lines of responsibility, channels of communication and the process itself are clearly defined. At th

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