Warm Home Prescription

Warm Home Prescription is a new service invented by Energy Systems Catapult and is being trialled across England and Scotland, helping people who struggle to afford energy and have severe health conditions made worse by the cold. The service allows them to stay warm and well at home, and out of hospital in winter whilst reducing the energy consumption and carbon emissions of their home.

This trial aims to determine how providing a low carbon warm home can improve people’s health and reduce their use of the health service, saving the NHS money overall and easing pressure on frontline staff. A warm and healthy home must be central to any consumer-centred vision we have for changing how people use energy in their home as we move towards a smart, flexible Net Zero energy system.

The Challenge

The UK is facing a huge challenge of ensuring that the energy system is designed to support all consumers now and in the future. A cost-of-living crisis and rising domestic energy prices have driven awareness in the importance of designing products and services that work for consumers in vulnerable situations. Living in a cold home puts millions of people with health conditions at particular risk of harm, such as those with respiratory diseases and cardio-vascular diseases. In 2020, 10,000 people are thought to have died as a result of living in a cold home.

Experts in our Fair Futures team realised that there must be a better solution to providing support. Drawing on previous research and studies aimed at supporting people with health conditions made worse by the cold, they asked the question:

What if the health service could prescribe a low carbon warm home to households who need it?

Buying the energy that the most vulnerable people need but cannot afford could help keep them stay warm and well at home, rather than becoming ill and needing costly care. Targeting can be significantly improved by working with the NHS, who know about the population’s health and the costs associated with living in a cold home.

The Innovation

Energy Systems Catapult invented the Warm Home Prescription service in response to this challenge. We carried out a rapid discovery phase in 2020 and understood some key assumptions to test in future stages and trials. We concluded that GPs were unlikely to be an efficient way to identify the most vulnerable and many people needed working heating controls if they were chose to heat their home to healthy temperatures.

That’s how our Warm Home Prescription service works. During winter 2021-22, we piloted a small study with NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and local energy advisor Severn Wye Energy Agency to show that it works on the ground.

Following the success of the 28-home 2021/22 Warm Home Prescription (WHP) pilot in Gloucestershire, Energy Systems Catapult, in partnership with local NHS partners and local energy advice organisations, undertook the largest trial of its kind in 2022/23, supporting 823 vulnerable and low-income individuals in Aberdeen, Middlesbrough, Gloucestershire and London. These groups are identified in the national health and social care advice (NICE Guideline NG6).

The service works to deliver rapid, practical help:

  • NHS teams (including social prescribers and complex care teams linked to GP surgeries) identify eligible patients
  • Patients are contacted by the NHS and offered a “warm home prescription” to be delivered by local energy advisors – who credit their energy account
  • Patients can immediately start heating their home to a healthy temperature
  • Further home energy upgrades are arranged where possible.

The project is funded by bp.

The Impact

Findings from the 2022/23 trial provide strong support for the impacts of the WHP project. Positive outcomes were reported by WHP recipients and healthcare professionals alike.

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Warm Home Prescription - Impact on Health & Wellbeing and Attitudes to Heat in 2022/23 trial

The trial overwhelmingly demonstrated the value of WHP to vulnerable and low-income individuals, with more than 4 out of 5 recipients heating their homes to warmer temperatures than in previous years. 51% of WHP recipients heated their homes to a much warmer temperature than before by at least 2 degrees.

During the trial, the health and wellbeing of individuals improved significantly owing to a warmer home:

  • 79% of recipients found it had a positive impact on their physical health,
  • 70% said that it improved their mental health.

Overall, 98% of WHP recipients would take part in the project again, with 93% placing greater importance on the need to stay warm in their homes.

Delivery staff on the project were satisfied with their experience, with 94% of healthcare professionals and 77% energy advisors reporting their satisfaction. Overall 93% of delivery staff would like to see WHP offered again during the winter. Benefits cited for this include:

  • Reducing cost pressures on the NHS and freeing up beds in hospitals
  • Proactively helping vulnerable people through the winter
  • Reduce financial pressures for vulnerable and low income households
  • Helping people to feel adequately warm and comfortable in their homes

Sheffield Hallam University has carried out an independent Impact and Value for Money assessment of Energy Systems Catapult’s Warm Home Prescription (WHP) project. It has been produced by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University.

Warm Home Prescription 2022/23 Trial Findings

Warm Home Prescription 2022/23 Trial Findings

Read the Report

Warm Home Prescription – Impact on Health & Wellbeing and Attitudes to Heat

Read the Sheffield Hallam University report

Warm Homes Prescription – Impact and Value for Money Report

Warm Home Prescription Taskforce Recommendations

The Warm Home Prescription taskforce has set out four key recommendations that will ensure insights from the 2022/23 Warm Home Prescription trial across England and Scotland have an enduring impact on how the health and energy sectors can work together to enable people to stay warm and well at home.

The recommendations have drawn from insights on how the WHP service impacted people’s health and wellbeing and use of the health service. These recommendations have been produced through the discussions of the WHP Taskforce and the research and feedback that Energy Systems Catapult have on the Warm Home Prescription service.

  1. Estimate the number of people at risk and where they live.
  2. Improve knowledge exchange about energy and health sector collaborations.
  3. Design future domestic energy support to allow households to achieve a warm healthy home.
  4. Provide innovation funding to ensure there are future products and services that can provide households vulnerable to the cold with a warm, healthy home.

Read the Taskforce Recommendations

The Warm Home Prescription taskforce has set out four key recommendations that will ensure insights from the 2022/23 trial leaves an enduring legacy.

Meet the Warm Home Prescription Taskforce

Rt Hon. Amber Rudd, Chair 

Amber Rudd was Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Minister for Women and Equalities between 24 July 2019 and 7 September 2019. Previously, Amber was Secretary of State for Work and Pensions between 16 November 2018 and 7 September 2019 and served as Home Secretary from 13 July 2016 to 29 April 2018. She was elected Conservative MP for Hastings and Rye in 2010.

In 2015, Amber led the UK team to the successful completion of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The UN-sponsored Conference of the Parties (COP 21) achieved the first ever legally binding global commitment to reduce national carbon emissions. Since leaving Government at the end of 2019 Amber has taken up roles in cyber security, in the energy transition sector and around women’s empowerment. On Jan 10th 2022 she became a Non-Executive Director of Centrica Plc, an energy and services company in the UK.

Laura McGadie

Laura McGadie leads and develops Energy Saving Trust’s energy advice and renewables services across the UK and has 30 years’ experience as a manager in the domestic energy field. Laura joined Energy Saving Trust in 2009 to establish the advice service for the Scottish Government’s fuel poverty programme and went on to lead the Home Energy Scotland advice network. She has overseen the expansion of the advice and support services that Energy Saving Trust provides across the UK, which include the Welsh Government’s Nest fuel poverty scheme and work in Northern Ireland. She previously worked as head of energy projects for Changeworks and has an MSc in Energy Systems and the Environment.

Mary Starks

Mary is an economist specialising in regulation and competition policy. She has held senior roles at competition authorities in the UK and New Zealand, was Director of Competition and Chief Economist at the Financial Conduct Authority, and Executive Director for Consumers and Markets at energy regulator Ofgem. She is currently a Partner at Flint Global and has recently been appointed by the Government to lead a review of The Pensions Regulator. She was until recently a trustee of Working Families.

Dr Mike Pitts

Dr Mike Pitts leads Innovate UK’s Net Zero Heat programme and is the Deputy Challenge Director for Transforming Construction. He was previously Head of Urban Systems at Innovate UK, covering the priority areas of Urban Living and Smart Infrastructure. He joined Innovate UK in 2012 to lead on embedding sustainability across Innovate UK’s strategy and has run programmes on cleantech, resource efficiency and environmental data.

Donna Ward

Donna Ward joined the Department for Work and Pensions as a Policy Director in August 2017. She is currently Director of Poverty, Families and Disadvantage and has responsibility for poverty policy and analysis, disadvantaged groups and family policy.

Donna trained as an economist and has moved between a number of analytical and policy roles across Government during her career. Her first Senior Civil Service appointment was in the Treasury, as Head of Public Sector Pay and Pensions in 2004. Her most recent role, before joining the Department for Work and Pensions, was that of Chief Analyst in the Department for Education.

Joanne Rowlands

Jo joined bp’s upstream organisation in 2011 where she managed the delivery of complex infrastructure projects and latterly corporate transformation programmes. Prior to bp, Jo held programme and change management roles in both Police Scotland (formerly Grampian Police) and British Airways.

Jo is a chartered project professional (ChPP) and holds an MBA from The Open University. In Jo’s current role at bp she facilitates integration across bp’s business activities in the UK and continental Europe and supports the SVP Europe in leading bp’s transition to an integrated energy company. In 2022 she led bp’s Ukraine humanitarian aid response and shaped bp’s social investment programme in response to the cost-of-living crisis in the UK.

Helen Sunderland

Helen Sunderland is a Partner in EY’s Local Public Services practice, with 15+ years of experience working with local authorities, health agencies and not for profits to identify new ways of improving outcomes for residents. She is passionate about using data and technology to encourage a shift to prevention and earlier intervention, as well as working with communities to collaborate on the redesign of services to support inclusive growth.

Professor Graham Evans

Professor Graham Evans began his NHS career with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust in June 2004 as the director of Information Management and Technology (IM&T). Graham is the Executive Chief Digital and Information Officer/Senior Information Risk Owner (SIRO) for NHS North East & North Cumbria Integrated Care Board. Graham was previously the Chief Information and Technology Officer/SIRO for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, in addition, Graham was seconded on a part-time basis to the role of Chief Digital Officer for the North East and North Cumbria (NENC) Integrated Care System (ICS).

Emma Pinchbeck

Emma Pinchbeck is the Chief Executive of Energy UK, a position that she has held since July 2020. She is an expert in whole-economy decarbonisation and the energy transition. She also holds several board advisory positions. Emma has two children and shares childcare with her husband. She is passionate about efforts to improve diversity in the energy industry. From 2016-2020, she served as Deputy CEO of the trade body Renewable UK, in which she also sat on the Board of Scottish Renewables. Prior to this, Emma was Head of Climate Change at WWFU-K. She has an MA from the University of Oxford.

Martin Campbell

Martin Campbell is Head of Consumer Vulnerability and Debt at Ofgem. He has worked in energy and consumer protection for over a decade, focusing on the domestic retail energy market. He has had several roles in Ofgem, including in Retail Policy, Enforcement and in the Office for Research and Economics.  Before joining Ofgem he worked in economic development consultancy for clients across the UK. Martin’s current work is on protections for prepayment meter customers, and on improving data sharing between energy and other sectors.

Louise Kingham CBE

Louise leads bp in the UK and continental Europe integrating bp’s business activities. She represents bp in this region to all stakeholders and works to identify opportunities to deliver decarbonised energy solutions at scale. In doing so, Louise works with her network of 20 European heads of country to tell bp’s story, liaise with governments, build and grow key relationships and seek out partners to collaborate with on the journey to Net Zero.

Louise joined bp in 2021 from the Energy Institute (EI), where she was CEO for 22 years, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience across a broad range of issues within the energy industry and beyond. Louise is a non-executive director of VH Global Sustainable Energy Opportunities plc. In 2022, she was appointed a Commander of the Order the British Empire (CBE) for services to the energy industry, having received and OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 2011. In 2017 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Science from University of Bath.

Adam Scorer

Adam has been Chief Executive of National Energy Action, a charity that campaigns against fuel poverty in the UK, since 2017. He has been a consumer rights campaigner for many years including at major UK consumer bodies such as Which? energywatch, Consumer Focus and Citizens Advice. He has been a member of numerous industry advisory boards and committees from civil aviation to insurance fraud. Fuel poverty, consumer vulnerability and the challenge of decarbonisation have been key drivers throughout his career.

Read the 2021/22 Report

Warm Home Prescription - Pilot Study report 2021-22

Fair Futures

Our Fair Futures team harness innovation to better understand and reduce vulnerability to fuel poverty, designing smarter policies, products, services and consumer protections.

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