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Fuel Poverty – Heating or Eating?

Government figures show that over nine million homes could be in fuel poverty by 2016 if energy bills continue to rise.

Households in fuel poverty are those that spend more than 10% of their salary on heating the home, and with energy prices rocketing more properties will be pushed into choosing between heating or eating.

An estimated six million households are already in fuel poverty and plan to cut back on heating in the home because they fear of the costs.

Household income is just one of the measures of fuel poverty; energy efficiency is also a deciding factor as many homes who are not in the poorest fifth of homes were still noted to be struggling to heat their homes. Energy inefficiency is blamed on poor wall insulation or windows causing drafts, old inefficient boilers, even heat being lost behind radiators.

Derek Lickorish, chairman of the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group, said: “Millions are living in misery due to high energy bills, yet time is running out for the Government to fuel-poverty-proof the homes of those on the lowest incomes.”

Improving energy efficiency is half way to tackling the problem. The more energy efficient your property the less energy you will need to heat your home.

Draft proofing your home for example could cost you around £200 but in the long term will enable you to make savings of around £60 per year as your home can then cope at lower temperatures. Just reducing your thermostat by 1 degree can lower your heating bill by 10%.

Fitting a programmable room thermostat or thermostatic radiator valves are other low cost solutions that will help you to save on heating. A professional plumber will be able to fit these for you and you will notice savings immediately.

Radiator reflectors, that send heat back into the room rather than out of walls, are inexpensive measures, while insulating pipes and water tanks are also simple, and easily carried out by a professional. A hot water cylinder jacket and pipe insulation will pay for themselves in next to no time and even reduce your carbon footprint.