Saturday 22nd October 2016                 Change text size:

Energy efficiency renovations solution to fuel poverty

Bryn Pinzgauer via flickr

Renovating homes to make them more energy efficient is the best way of tackling fuel poverty, according to an alliance of campaigners.

As part of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition (EFPC), charities including Age UK, Save the Children and Friends of the Earth are urging the government to initiate a massive home improvement programme to help millions of vulnerable families pay their energy bills.

Figures show that there are currently over 5 million households living in fuel poverty in the UK, meaning they need to spend more than 10% of their income on energy just to keep warm. 

Lord O’Neill of Clackmannan yesterday proposed amendments to the energy bill, which would set a targeted commitment to fight fuel poverty, for debate in the House of Lords.

William Baker, chairman of the EFPC, argued that such a target is urgently needed, else “there is no guarantee that fuel poverty will be addressed in England by this or any future government. 

The EFPC concede that such a renovation project would require an average investment of £7,400 per home while reducing the average fuel bill of those who benefit by only £570.

However, they argue that these costs should be compared to the estimated £1.3 billion annual expenditure to the NHS of treating the symptoms of fuel poverty, and the government’s income from carbon taxes.  

The UK came second from bottom in a ranking that compared levels of fuel poverty from 27 European countries, bettering only Estonia, according to damning figures released in October.

Those findings prompted another coalition of charities, going under the name of The Energy Bill Revolution, to also call for initiatives to improve the energy efficiency of Britain’s homes.

Neera Sharma, Barnardo’s assistant director of policy and research, said “It’s a disgrace that not only has so little action been taken to bring down energy bills, but so little is being done to stop them continuing to rise further for the UK’s poorest families.”

No other investment can do so much for so many, added Ed Matthew, director of the campaign.

The Energy Bill Revolution also suggested that funds raised from taxing companies for their carbon emissions could fund the project, which they say would also create 130,000 jobs.

On Monday, campaigners urged European countries to develop more ambitious plans for retrofitting buildings to be more energy efficient. 

They said that ambitious retrofitting strategies are essential if the EU is to meet its long-term targets in efforts to prevent climate change. The EU has set a target of saving 20% of its projected 2020 energy consumption through improvements in energy efficiency.

James Drinkwater, senior policy advisor of the Europe Regional Network, says, “Governments around Europe cannot afford to miss the chance to improve their economies and the lives of those who live, learn and work in Europe’s buildings. They must seize the opportunity.”

Further reading:

Europe urged to develop ambitious energy efficiency retrofit plans

Big six energy bosses grilled by MPs over price hikes

UK second worst for fuel poverty in EU – as groups warn over coming ‘crisis’

Government to test cost of green energy policies amid rising bills

The Guide to Sustainable Homes 2013

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