Affordable warmth is the ability to heat your home to an adequate level for comfort and health without developing debt as a result.
The original definition of fuel poverty suggested that if householders were paying more than 10% of their income on keeping warm (to certain temperatures) they were living in fuel poverty.
A new indicator for fuel poverty is ‘Low Income, High Cost’
A household is said to be fuel poor if:
- Their income is below the poverty line (taking into account fuel costs); and
- Their energy costs are higher than is typical for their household type
Difficulty in achieving affordable warmth can stem from various causes including:
- Poorly insulated homes
- Low household income
- Illness and other vulnerabilities
- Unsustainable/unfair energy prices
- Lack of knowledge on how to use heating systems
- Fear of high bills
Fuel poverty continues to rise. For some people in winter there can be a stark choice of ‘heat or eat’. The best long-term solution for fuel poverty is to improve energy efficiency to bring the cost of heating homes down. A variety of Government schemes and incentives are in place to help this. ‘Better Housing, Better Health’ – a project which covers Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire – is ‘a longstanding service working to reduce and prevent the number of people in fuel poverty, and so improve health & well-being’.
Fuel bills can be cut by tackling ‘no-cost’ and ‘low cost’ actions. For those living in privately rented accommodation, from April 2018 landlords have a legal duty to ensure properties they rent out meet a certain level of energy efficiency.
LCON’s activities in the past have included using a thermal imaging camera to show householders where heat is leaking away.