Health and Wellbeing

Keeping Warm, Keeping Well

Photograph of a burning wood fire

We recognise the importance of good energy management for the economic and environmental well-being of residents, businesses and employees.

Below is information on our Energy Efficiency Adviser service, local oil stamp saving scheme, community oil buying clubs, grants and assistance, money saving tips and more.

Find out more about:

Energy Saving Tips: Did you know: Money Saving Tips:
Spinning your clothes on the washing machine’s highest spin cycle will remove as much water as possible, so they will dry more quickly on the line or in the tumble dryer Typically, an uninsulated property can lose around 26 per cent of its heat through the roof.  Installing 270 mm deep loft insulation will significantly reduce this heat loss Using smarter driving techniques can reduce your fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by around 15 per cent.  For the average private car driver who commutes by car in the UK this would equate to around £200 - £300 per year and would cut carbon dioxide emissions by around 500 - 600kg per year; that's around 2 months’ worth of fuel

Fuel Poverty  


Fuel Poverty is the term used to describe the situation whereby a household is required to spend more than 10% of their income on household fuel bills.

The Problem

The extent of fuel poverty in the Mid and East Antrim area has been steadily increasing at a staggering rate over the past 10 years from 28% of households being considered ‘fuel poor’ in 2001 to 35% in 2006 and up to 43% in 2009.

This is just below the Northern Ireland average of 44% with almost one in every two households in the country experiencing Fuel Poverty.


Three main causes of Fuel Poverty have been identified:

  • low incomes
  • energy inefficiency
  • rising cost of fuel

The risks

Living in a cold damp home often directly causes poor health and well-being and can be a contributing factor to specific conditions such as:

  • stroke
  • coronary heart disease
  • asthma
  • respiratory illness
  • compromised mental health
  • social exclusion

The cold puts a strain on the body and every year in Northern Ireland there is around 800 excess winter deaths as a direct result of the cold, with many more becoming ill.

Who is at risk?

The most recent figures suggest that the highest rates of fuel poverty are found amongst older retired people, those not in work and those living in isolated rural dwellings.

These vulnerable groups have not significantly changed since 2006 although the total numbers affected have increased overall. Factors such as the economic downturn and the rising fuel prices since 2006 have, and may continue to place more and more households at risk of fuel poverty.

What can you do to protect yourself?

  • Take measures to ensure your home is adequately heated, well ventilated, and free from damp and severe draughts.
    (Visit our Grants and Assistance section on how to make your home more energy efficient.)
  • Keep an eye on room temperatures.
    Ensure your room thermostat is set to 21o C in living rooms and 18o C in all other rooms.
    Babies who are wrapped up in blankets can be kept in rooms at 18o C.
  • Keep warmly dressed in cold weather by taking time to wrap up before you go out in the cold (hats, gloves, scarf and a good warm overcoat) and ensuring that you wear warm clothes (light layers such as vests work well) or a blanket while you sitting at home for long periods during cold weather.

What help is available?

With so many unclaimed benefits it is worth finding out if there is extra income available to you by getting a Benefit Entitlement Check.

There are number of local agencies that can help you with this including Citizens Advice and the NI Direct.

For help making your home warmer there are Grants and Assistance for central heating and insulation measures.

To help you budget for your home heating oil an Oil Stamps Saving Scheme operates within the Mid and East Antrim area.

Energy Efficiency Adviser Service

We employ Energy Efficiency Advisers who will provide one to one advice and support on energy issues around the home.

If you would like to discuss any issues you might have or would like a free home energy visit contact one of our Energy Efficiency Advisorsat:

T: 0300 124 5000

One to one support includes onward referrals to energy efficiency schemes and support organisations, advice on current household energy use, management of current household energy use, management of current heating systems, advice on budgeting for fuel, and if required the temporary installation of energy monitors and thermal imaging of homes to identify areas of heat loss.

Oil Stamp Saving Scheme

The ‘Stay Warm Saving Scheme’, operated by the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and supported by Council, allows you to spread the cost of your home heating oil by buying oil stamps at local retailers.

Saving your stamps

  1. collect an oil stamp savings card from any of the participating stamp retailers
  2. complete the name and address sections to help prevent fraud
  3. purchase £5 oil stamps from participating retailers.
    Stamps are non-refundable.
  4. place your oil savings stamp onto your savings card in the spaces provided.
    Each stamp holds 30 stamps.

The card can then be used for payment, or part-payment, of your oil with participating oil suppliers listed on the downloadable document below:

Please check with the oil supplier to see how they expect to receive you card(s).

Cards do not have to be full – part completed cards will be accepted as payment/part payment.

It is your responsibility to comply with the payment method of your chosen oil supplier.

What if I lose my card?

Neither Council nor St Vincent de Paul will be liable for oil stamps or oil stamp cards which are lost or stolen.

Once oil stamps have been sold they are non-refundable from stamp outlets.

Customers should ensure that they keep their stamp card in a safe, secure location.

Where can I get more information?

You can contact us on T: 0300 124 5000 or St Vincent de Paul on T: 028 2564 4122

Council would like to thank all the participating retailers and oil suppliers for their support of the scheme.

Community Bulk Buying Oil Clubs

The Council has also been working with a number of local community clubs to set up community oil buying clubs.

By co-ordinating orders for domestic heating oil in an area, the clubs are able to negotiate discounts with the oil suppliers by buying in bulk. 

The clubs are a great way of helping communities make home heating oil more affordable. 

Everyone within the club pays the same price per litre regardless of the quantity of oil ordered and everyone benefits from the lower prices that can be negotiated by bulk buying. 

Club members are able to buy smaller quantities of oil at regular intervals.

In each club the householders register to join.

The club sets its order deadline dates throughout the year and householders place their order by the deadline.

Each club has a community co-ordinator who negotiates the best price from a range of suppliers and informs members of the price, supplier and the date of delivery.

Each householder is responsible for paying the oil supplier directly by cash, oil stamps, debit or credit card. 

Oil club members have commented that being part of the club has allowed them to get smaller amounts of oil more often, saves them ringing round for quotes, helps them to budget better and has given them peace of mind.

The oil clubs currently running within Mid and East Antrim are:

Braid Oil Club T: 07824 860 083
Glenravel Oil Club   T: 07856 335 221
Larne Oil Club


Affordable Warmth Scheme

The Affordable Warmth Scheme is the Department for Communities programme for addressing fuel poverty in the Private Sector.

It is targeted at low-income households and delivered across Northern Ireland on behalf of the Department by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive 

From 1 July 2023, Council no longer acts as a delivery partner for the scheme.

However, our Community Health & Wellbeing Team can offer advice and assistance on various other Energy Efficiency schemes, Home Safety, Affordable Food and ……

Contact us on E: or T: 028 2563 3394 to speak to member of staff who will be happy to help.

Northern Ireland Sustainable Energy Programme

These grants are provided by private energy companies and can help with the cost of:

  • Insulation
  • new heating boilers and controls
  • energy efficient lighting

Each grant has its own eligibility criteria and you need to be on a low income to qualify for many of them. 

The grants open in April each year - by December each year the money is often all used up so you should apply as soon after April as you can.

A list of current schemes can be found on the Utility Regulator website.

Boiler Replacement Scheme

The scheme, provided by funding from the Northern Ireland Executive, offers owner occupiers a grant of up to £1,000 to:

  • Replace inefficient boilers with energy-efficient condensing oil or gas boilers
  • Switch from oil to gas
  • Switch to a wood pellet boiler

It is available to those who earn less than £40,000 a year with an inefficient boiler of at least 15 years and is dependent on total gross income.

The scheme, administered by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE), is targeted at householders who do not qualify for other Government energy-efficient improvement schemes, making them vulnerable to fuel poverty.

If you think you may be eligible, call T: 0300 200 7874 or register by E: 

Visit NI Direct to find additional information.

Winter Fuel Payment

If you are aged 60 or over you may get a Winter Fuel Payment to help pay for keeping warm in winter.

This can be between £100 and £300 depending on your situation.

Find out if you are eligible for this payment and how to apply by visiting the Gov.UK Winter Fuel Payment webpage.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy can be defined as ‘the energy flows derived from natural sources that are continuously at work in our environment and are not depleted by being used’.

Renewable energy produces significantly less carbon dioxide than traditional methods of energy production and therefore does not contribute to global climate change.

Because renewable energy is produced by natural resources, such as wind, sun and water, it will never run out, providing us with a sustainable option for future energy supply.

Renewable energy also has the potential to supply 100% of the UK’s power but currently only provides 2.8%.

Before considering installing renewable technology it is important to improve your energy use in the home or commercial building. Issues to consider include:

  • increasing the insulation of the building fabric (walls, roof, floors, windows)
  • draught proofing
  • ensuring heating and hot water systems are efficient
  • installing heating and lighting controls
  • using efficient electrical appliances i.e. AA rating on white goods
  • behavioural changes e.g. not leaving appliances on standby

Renewable energy can be obtained from a wide variety of sources:

  • Solar
  • Wind
  • Ocean
  • Water
  • Geothermal
  • Biomass

There are different types of renewable technologies available for consideration, all with their own advantages and disadvantages, including solar panels for hot water, solar photovoltaics or wind turbines for electricity generation, ground source heat pumps, biomass boilers, etc.

For information on renewable technologies click on the following links:

Community Programmes

Sew Energy Efficient

Are you part of a community group?

Is there a member of your group who can use a sewing machine and would be happy to show others how to use one?

Would you like to learn to sew?

Council, through funding provided by the Public Health Agency, are delighted to offer local community groups access to their ‘Sew Energy Efficient’ programme - a lending service for sewing machines to enable groups to learn basic sewing machine skills and make a draught excluder.

Groups signing up to this service will:

  • have the use of up to 10 sewing machines
  • be provided with full sewing instructions and safety tips
  • be provided with sewing materials for participants to make their own draught excluders
  • be provided with energy efficiency advise and tips

So why not enquire today and try a free fun way of communal sharing and learning.

For more information on Sew Energy Efficient contact Karen Bruce on T: 028 2563 3118 or E:

Cook Slow, Eat Well

Using a slow cooker is an easy way of making tasty nutritional meals at affordable prices.

They are cheap to buy, cheap to run and make the most out of cheaper ingredients which benefit from a longer cooking time.

Preparation time is quick and you can make extra servings to refrigerate or freeze for later.

They are also portable so you can take it anywhere and plug it in.

Slow cookers are great for stews, soups, curries and joints of meat but they can also be used to make desserts and for baking cakes, cookies and brownies.

Recipes are normally provided with your slow cooker but there are many more available online.

By cooking your own meals you know exactly what you’re eating and slow cooked meals can have all the nutritional requirements that you need without much effort and spending lots of money.

You can read the Cook Slow, Eat Well online or download a copy.

Air Fryer Cookbook

This cookbook was developed as part of the energy efficiency work undertaken by our Community Health & Wellbeing Team to highlight the benefits of using an air fryer as a low cost alternative to using a conventional oven or deep fat fryer to make nutritious food at low energy use.

All the recipes have been reviewed by the Northern Health & Social Care Trust Health Improvement Dietitians.

Air fryers are simple to use, need considerably less oil than frying, require little preparation time and are great for foods that can be roasted, baked or fried.

The different sizes available mean they’re suitable for any size household, big or small. 

You can read the Air Fryer Cookbook receipies on this website or download a copy.