Affordable warmth and fuel poverty

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
  • Under-occupancy

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.