The 29th November is Fuel Poverty Awareness Day.
National Energy Action (NEA) estimates that 3.5 million households in the UK are considered fuel poor, this equates to 12.9% of households in the UK. Whilst this may seem like a relatively small amount, the cumulative effects of this over the next 15 years are significant. According to the NEA, in the next 15 years living in a cold home will result in 125,000 premature deaths and the NHS will spend £22 billion on treating conditions related to the cold.
As well as the impact fuel poverty has on household’s finances and standard of living, one of the biggest issues is the extent that it affects an individual’s health. This is increased when discussing a vulnerable household; for example, a household that contains children, the elderly, or an individual with a disability or long-term illness.
The main health impacts of fuel poverty are mostly cardiovascular and respiratory problems, due to your blood vessels constricting for the heart to concentrate on pumping blood to the major organs. But other health problems that can happen are a lowered resistance to infections, as well as any health issues that can result from damp or mould in the home. Living in cold conditions has also been linked to poor mental health because of anxiety and stress, and in turn social isolation and reduced engagement in education.
As a Warm Homes Officer for PECT I regularly see households that are suffering from fuel poverty and its effects. Fuel poverty means many households must make decisions between buying food or heating their homes, as well as suffering in other aspects of their lives. In general, those in fuel poverty have a lesser standard of living and unfortunately it is difficult to get out of fuel poverty because of the impact it has on a person’s whole life.
My role here at PECT, as well as the work that many others do all over the country, is to help those in need. By offering a free energy advice service we can help households reduce their energy consumption in their homes to save on bills, switch tariff or supplier, apply for the Warm Homes Discount, and access grants for loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, boilers and more. We aim to help those who need some extra help with their energy bills and keeping their homes warm, whilst also reducing the strain fuel poverty has on the NHS.
If you would like to get involved in helping prevent fuel poverty, you can visit www.nea.org.uk for more information. Or if you feel you could benefit from our free Warm Homes energy advice service then please do contact PECT on 01733 568408, email [email protected] or visit www.pect.org.uk/warmhomes.