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 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 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.
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.
'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 92–100, B from 81–92, C from 69–80, D from 55–68, E from 39–54, F from 21–38 and G from 1–20.