Tackling fuel poverty
Fuel poverty is defined as a household which needs to spend more than 10% of its income on all fuel used to heat the home to an adequate warmth, outlined in the UK as between 18°C and 21°C. Government figures indicate that in 2014 the number of fuel poverty households are expected to rise 2.2%, to 2.33 million. An increase in energy costs is a key contributor to the rising number.
Fuel poverty has a significantly negative effect on the health of tenants, as cold homes pose health risks such as cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses.
Tenants need their incomes and health to be protected. The sector needs to act quickly to tackle the issue. The introduction of technologies to reduce fuel consumption in new and retrofit properties and innovative solutions for new build projects are needed urgently. Devices such as energy meters can monitor fuel usage effectively, ensuring the landlord or tenant is in control of their consumption.
Additionally, new homes which incorporate innovative heating technologies such as air-to-water heat pumps can help cut fuel consumption, down to 10% of the UK national average, thus reducing fuel bills.
Also, a home built in the 1960’s loses three times more heat than one built today and as the UK is home to the oldest housing stock in Europe, insulation investment is fundamental for keeping heating costs down.
The implementation of energy saving measures incurs costs, however there are grants and incentives available to help. For example The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is providing a source of funding for energy companies to improve the efficiency of the UK’s housing stock using various measures. This will run until March 2015 and is designed to tackle fuel poverty in communities. The domestic RHI is a government funded schemed which is providing homeowners and landlords with funding to install renewable heating technologies.
Innovative work such as this continues across the housing sector but there is still room for manoeuvre in the future. As long as landlords and housing associations combine innovative business-style thinking with on-going social commitments, the end result should be to ensure the best homes and heating technologies are provided for tenants.
For more information, read our whitepaper on tackling fuel poverty here.