6 Glossary

Excess winter deaths

Almost all causes of death show some variation with season. Overall, the death rate is higher during winter months and these deaths are referred to as 'excess winter deaths'. In the UK, these figures are based on death rates from December to the end of March.

Hard-to-heat homes

Hard‑to‑heat homes include:

  • those with solid walls

  • those with no loft space

  • those in a state of disrepair

  • high rise blocks

  • those not connected to (and that cannot be connected to) the gas grid.

Other factors, such as listed architectural features, accessibility or construction quality may make it difficult to significantly improve the SAP rating (see standard assessment procedure below). Such properties are sometimes described as 'hard to treat'. Although important, the major issue from a health perspective is to ensure properties are not 'hard to heat'.

Home improvement agencies

Home improvement agencies are local organisations that help older people, people with disabilities and vulnerable people to live in safety and with dignity in their own homes. Services focus on ensuring existing housing is fit for purpose and that vulnerable people, predominantly homeowners, can live independently for as long as possible. Locally they may be known as 'care and repair' or 'staying put' agencies.

Priority services registers

The priority services registers are schemes offering extra free services to people who are of pensionable age, are registered disabled, have a hearing or visual impairment, or have a long-term health problem. They are run by energy suppliers and distributors.


Self‑disconnection occurs when a pre‑payment meter is not topped‑up (either accidentally or intentionally) before all the credit, including emergency credit, is used and the supply is cut off.

Standard assessment procedure

'Standard assessment procedure' (SAP) refers to an index that reflects the cost of heating a dwelling. The index depends on the rate of heat loss determined by: building fabric, degree of insulation, ventilation and the cost of the heating. This last factor is determined by heating efficiency, fuel price and solar gain. SAP ratings are frequently divided into 7 bands (A to G). A (most efficient) runs from 92 to 100, B from 81 to 92, C from 69 to 80, D from 55 to 68, E from 39 to 54, F from 21 to 38 and G from 1 to 20.

Registered social landlord

Registered social landlord is the general name for not‑for‑profit housing providers approved and regulated by the government through the Housing Corporation. Most registered social landlords are also known as housing associations.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)