For those who live in temperate, cool or cold climates, the provision of adequate heating is essential for large parts of the year in order to maintain comfort and good health. While some may consider good ‘central heating’ to be a luxury, a recent epidemiological study undertaken in several European countries revealed that death rates amongst those over 50 years of age are pro- portional to the degree of coldness experienced . In fact, in England and Wales there is a 2% increase in mortality for every 1 °C below an outside temperature of 19 °C . As a result, weather related mortality rates in the UK are amongst the highest in Europe, with an estimated 40 000 additional deaths occurring during the winter months each year . One major contributory factor to this sad state of affairs is the poor state of much of the housing stock in the UK [1, 3].