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HomeMoneyYour MoneyThe Cold Truth 2023: Uncovering Fuel Poverty Issues in the UK

The Cold Truth 2023: Uncovering Fuel Poverty Issues in the UK

Fuel in the UK
Image by Freepik

As energy prices continue to rise, more and more UK households are feeling the pinch of steadily rising bills. And many are, unfortunately, facing fuel poverty.

It’s not just bad news for people’s wallets, either being in fuel poverty can have serious health implications. With people being forced to keep the heating off on cold days to eat, existing health conditions can get worse, and new illnesses and respiratory problems can develop.

What is fuel poverty?

The Office for National Statistics shows different countries within the UK have different (or no) metrics for measuring whether someone officially counts as being ‘fuel poor’. For example, Northern Ireland and Wales class a household whose fuel costs are at least 10% of their income before housing costs as fuel-poor.

But the broad definition is the same for all: fuel poverty is when an individual. Household on a low income can’t keep their home warm at a reasonable cost.

According to the government’s Fuel Poverty Statistics 2023 report, around 13.4% of UK households were in fuel poverty in England in 2022. The previous year, it was 13.1%. And the number is set to rise again in 2023.

What are the causes of fuel poverty?

Rising energy costs

Probably the most obvious point, energy costs in the UK have been skyrocketing for a few years now. As wholesale prices of fuel increase and suppliers pass on the costs to their customers, households with already limited incomes struggle to keep up with the expenses needed to maintain a comfortable, habitable living space.

Low incomes

Low and stagnating incomes go hand-in-hand with rising energy costs to increase fuel poverty. Many people in the UK live on low or fixed incomes, including the elderly and those with chronic illnesses. When your income is already low, even a small increase to your usual bill could have a serious knock-on effect on your ability to continue affording necessities.

Poor energy efficiency in the home

The more energy-inefficient your home and heating systems are, the more energy you’ll need to keep it at a comfortable temperature in the winter and the more money you’ll spend on doing so. Older boilers use more fuel to heat a home. Poor insulation and draughts will make heating systems work twice as hard to keep the home warm while precious heat escapes.

Some solutions to help alleviate fuel poverty

Check if you’re eligible for a Warm Home Discount

The government’s Warm Home Discount Scheme helps support households in or at risk of fuel poverty. You can contact your energy supplier to see if you’re eligible. For winter 2023 to 2024, households on the scheme can get a total of £150 off their electricity bill.

Make your home more energy-efficient

As mentioned above, old boilers and draughty doors and windows are energy sinks that could result in you paying more to heat your home. There are more ways to save energy in your home than insulating it and upgrading your boiler, too. Some of the simplest ways to save on household bills include swapping out your old incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving LEDs. Turning your thermostat down by just 1°C, switching electrical appliances off by the mains instead of leaving them on standby, showering instead of bathing. And getting a free smart meter upgrade so you can keep track of your energy use.

Have a chat with your energy supplier (or switch to a better one)

If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills or even if you’re just looking for ways to reduce energy costs in general. Some energy providers can potentially lower your energy costs. Utility Warehouse (UW) offer lower energy rates to customers who bundle multiple services together and also offers discounts on broadband for bundling. So you could save even more on your home services every month.

With days getting shorter and the weather finally getting cooler, don’t wait until it’s frosty outside to start making changes. Get ahead of winter by getting better energy rates, preparing your home for colder days and being mindful of the energy you’re currently using.

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