There are four factors which impact on your heating bills:
As a Council, we have a direct impact on the third factor – we can keep housing for our tenants up to Scottish Government standards, and we can seek and secure funds to help private householders improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
We play an indirect role in the other factors – for example, by pointing you onto advice on how to maximise your household income and benefits, or ways you can reduce your power consumption.
We also work to highlight Orkney’s challenging climate and fuel poverty rates to those in government.
See also: I need help with my housing costs
Maximising your income and making sure you are getting benefits you’re entitled to can make a huge, long-term difference. If you are a Council (or OHAL) tenant, you can speak to your housing officer:
You can also arrange an appointment with the local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), at their office within Anchor Buildings, 6 Bridge Street, Kirkwall, KW15 1HR - or call them on 01856875266 or 01856870400.
Our page about Winter Energy costs
THAW Orkney's guide to help available
While ultimately Orkney Islands Council has no direct control over energy and fuel prices, we work with others to highlight Orkney’s challenging climate and fuel poverty rates to those in government.
As a Council, we are required to meet strict housing standards for our tenants - there's a bit more detail in the next section.
If you are struggling with your housing costs, you might find advice specific to your situation at our 'I'm in a property and need advice' page.
You could also speak to your energy provider to check if you are on the best deal for you - you may be able to save money by switching to direct debit payments for example. Smart meters may help you better monitor and adjust your energy use. Contact details for your energy provider can be found on your latest bill.
There are local and national sources of advice and information any householder can tap into. A great starting point is Home Energy Scotland (HES) (Freephone – 0808 808 2282)
Locally, you can speak to:
Private householders can apply for financial assistance towards home energy efficiency measures, through funding secured by Orkney Islands Council known as ‘Energy Efficient Scotland: Area Based Scheme’ (EES: ABS). This Scottish Government funding has helped over 700 households in Orkney improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
Warmworks are the managing agent appointed by the Council to get Orkney’s EES: ABS funding to householders who need it – they have an office in Kirkwall and work with local contractors to carry out improvements. Find out more here and watch the video below about their work in Orkney
Our social housing is required to meet strict energy efficiency standards set out by the Scottish Government. As of 31 March 2022, 96% of our properties meet the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH) milestone 1. EESSH2 is the second phase of the programme and requires all social housing to meet an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of band B or be treated as meeting EPC band B by December 2032 - no social housing is to be re-let with an EPC of band D or below from December 2025 onwards.
Any tenant with concerns should contact their housing officer in the first instance:
We all need to understand how much energy we use.
Review your energy bill/s and consider if there are ways to reduce your electricity costs:
Sources of advice to improve your home energy habits include:
Read advice from the Energy Saving Trust on how to use storage heater controls, or watch the video:
Also from the Energy Saving Trust:
Don't ignore rent arrears - there are people who can help you overcome difficulties and maximise your income. Speak to Citizens Advice Bureau who can help you with free benefits checks and debt management. If you are a Council tenant, you can also speak with your housing officer about a repayment plan. The Council's Benefits team can advise of any other sources of assistance such as the Discretionary Housing Payment or Scottish Welfare Fund you could be eligible for.
No one wants to live in a damp home. Damp can cause mould on walls and furniture and cause wooden window frames to rot. Condensation mould is unsightly and can cause health problems so is well worth acting early to avoid issues later on. A typical place for condensation mould is on an outside wall or behind furniture that is tight to the wall. Here are some tips for preventing it from taking hold.
1. Do a check of your building. ‘Penetrating damp’ is caused by moisture entering the house through leaking pipes, a damaged roof, blocked gutters, gaps around window frames and cracked or defective rendering and brickwork. All these problems can be remedied so need to be reported in the normal way to your landlord or housing officer (or your builder if you are the homeowner).
2. Insulate and draught-proof your home. Warm homes suffer less from condensation. Make sure any loft insulation is to a depth of roughly 270mm (about 11 inches) and is not compressed by stored goods or misplaced by workmen etc. Your windows and external doors should be draught-free when fully closed.
3. Let the damp air out and the fresh air in. Remember, dry air is cheaper to heat than moist air so it's well worth being vigilant about letting moist air out. When cooking or bathing, stop moist air getting into the rest of your home by keeping the kitchen or bathroom door shut - but open a window so the steam can escape outside. Extractor fans are a good way to get rid of moist air and steam so that less condensation forms. They use little electricity and don’t add much to your energy bill, so it's worth speaking to your landlord or housing officer about getting fans fitted in kitchens and bathrooms if there are none already. Make sure there is a gap between your furniture and the walls, so that fresh air can circulate, and give wardrobes and cupboards a good airing regularly - this will help avoid mould forming where the air is not moving.
4. Heat your home a little more. Very cold rooms are more likely to get damp and mould. Set the heating thermostatic radiator valve to 1, or the storage heater to low, in unused rooms so the radiator gives out a little bit of heat whenever the heating is on. If you have wall mounted heaters as part of the storage heating system, it is likely that they are connected to the cheap rate tariff so will be much cheaper and safer than using a portable heater. If you don’t have central heating, consider using a room heater with a timer and temperature control. Remember, unused rooms will need a good airing from time to time.
5. Catch condensation. You can catch condensation dripping from windows with condensation channels and sponge strips available from DIY shops. Wiping down windows and sills in the morning will also help, but be sure to wring out the cloth and dry outside rather than dry it on a radiator. A dehumidifier can help a lot, but cost anything from £40 to over £200 - set them on high initially then turn to a low setting to keep on top of the condensation and make them more affordable to run.