Energy project brings warmth to home

Margaret Dickson had external insulation added to her home
Margaret Dickson had external insulation added to her home

Keeping warm at home is a priority for South Queensferry pensioners Margaret and John Dickson. With John suffering from ill health it’s even more important to have a well-insulated house, but heating comes at a cost.

When the couple heard about the Scottish Government’s Home Energy loan scheme, they jumped at the chance to find out more about saving money on the cost of throwing a warm blanket of external insulation around their West Lothian home.

“We’re in an end terrace house and I felt I was losing heat through the gable end,” says Margaret.

“We have gas central heating and the boiler is just five years old, but the house still didn’t feel very warm.

“We’re pensioners and my husband doesn’t keep very well. He’s been in and out of hospital quite a lot. He feels the cold quicker than I do. If I’m too warm, he’s just feeling about right.”

When they saw the difference external wall insulation had made to a neighbour’s home, the couple set about finding out how they could cut their bills and make their house warmer.

They applied to the Home Energy loan scheme which offers owners, occupiers and private landlords an interest-free loan to help with a variety of energy saving work.

Since it started, around a third of Scottish households have been offered advice by the Home Energy Scotland helpline. The Scottish Government has now extended the support available with schemes such as Warmer Homes Scotland and interest free loans for energy efficiency improvements.

As well as receiving money-saving advice and an assessment of their property by phone, households may be eligible to receive help to replace their old, inefficient boiler, which could reduce fuel bills by hundreds of pounds.

Some people may be in line for free loft and cavity wall insulation, while others could receive a full central heating system at no cost.

Margaret was delighted to discover a cashback scheme which would cut her bill in half from £9,000 to £4,500. She is now paying back the loan at £72 a month over five years.

“Now it’s like an entirely new home,” she explains. “It was all done really quickly, just a couple of weeks.”

The couple are already noticing how much warmer they feel at home. “I can feel the difference already,” says Margaret.

“There’s a walkway at the side of our house and the wind just whistled right through. Now I feel the heat stays in the house a lot longer, it’s really warm.”

Meanwhile, Barry Alexander, from Bathgate, has had a Home Energy Scotland Green Deal Assessment carried out which showed his home would benefit from double glazing and that the boiler should be replaced.

○ Home Energy Scotland is a one-stop shop for free and impartial advice on how to make your home cheaper to heat

○ Up to £224 million is being invested in Warmer Homes Scotland, building on the success of the previous Energy Assistance Scheme.

○ Upgrading to an A-Grade boiler and full heating controls could save you 30 per cent on your annual gas bill.

○ A home that isn’t well insulated can lose up to 50 per cent of its heat through its roof and walls.

○ Turning down your home thermostat by just 1 per cent can help cut your annual heating bill by 8 per cent.

○ By topping up your loft insulation to the recommended 270mm you could save up to £35 a year in heating costs.

○ It’s free to call the Home Energy Scotland helpline for clear and impartial advice. Call 0808 808 2282 or visit