RESIDENTS in Portsmouth have been urged to take up a slew of free energy saving measures as the council agreed to expand assistance for those facing fuel poverty.
In a bid to help vulnerable residents and cut down on carbon emissions Portsmouth City Council will increase the work it is doing to make homes more energy efficient.
Currently the council offers a range of services such as providing replacement boilers, central heating, insulation and new lightbulbs. Today it launched the new Switched On Portsmouth website, which will allow people to see what help is available to them.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting today council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: 'It seems to me there is almost nothing more important than doing this in terms of the environment and making sure houses aren't losing heat.'
Environment boss Cllr Dave Ashmore added: 'Speaking as someone who has lived with a low income and in fuel poverty I can say this is really needed.
'But we need to get this out there.'
Around 12.1 per cent of households in Portsmouth are estimated to be in fuel poverty, meaning they cannot afford to keep their homes adequately warm - higher than the average for England of 10.9 per cent.
Data from the Office for National Statistics also showed there were 140 excess winter deaths in the city last year, of which it is thought an estimated 30 per cent were attributable to living in cold homes.
Cllr Darren Sanders, the council's housing boss, said: 'This is a way to make sure our children's futures are better, our homes are more efficient and we don't just tackle, but we stop, the climate emergency.'
He also had concerns the work was overshadowed by the closure of the council's ill-fated company Victory Energy this year.
'One of the reasons I was not keen to pursue the risky Victory Energy scheme there were so many great things going on already,' he added.
Councillors also agreed to look to target more homes with a new detailed strategy and public consultation.
Find out more at switchedonportsmouth.co.uk.