According to the Met office, Winter 2013 was the fifth mildest on record and with energy prices ever on the rise, next winter is set to be more expensive then the last.
Despite being the seventh richest country in the world, on average at least 65 people die each day in the UK during winter as a result of illnesses due to cold homes. Last winter, more than one quarter of Britons had to choose between heating and eating.
In 2016 it’s predicted that the number of households suffering from fuel poverty will increase from one quarter to one third, meaning around 9.1m people within the UK will struggle to heat their homes. Unfortunately this affects the most vulnerable, the elderly and those with young children. With energy prices ever on the rise is there any feasible way out?
Homes in the UK are renowned for being some of the least energy efficient in Europe and are responsible for nearly 25 per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions. In working to improve the efficiency of homes it will also help to save money and help homes stay warmer for longer – meaning less fuel will be required to heat the homes.
Small investments can be made that will pay themselves back in a year or two helping to save money on the fuel bill and decrease carbon emissions. Investing in these measures over warmer months is the perfect time to prepare for the winter, as utilities are generally lower during the milder months. Investing in cavity wall insulation and roof insulation is a sound investment that will pay itself back.
It’s important not to forget that the reason that energy prices are rising so dramatically is because there is only a finite amount of fossil fuels left and these are only going to get sparser. This means that being able to invest in alternate energy sources should be the real priority after small improvements have been made to the home.
Of course, this is easier said than done, those who can’t afford to heat their homes are unlikely to have the extra capital to invest in greener and renewable energies and the home improvements to incorporate them into their home. Whether it involves the installation of ground source heat pumps in Norfolk or solar panels in Somerset, a scheme needs to be introduced that will make these sorts of energies more available to more people.
The government have introduced numerous policies, such as the Green Deal, the renewable heat incentive (RHI) and the community renewable energy scheme in efforts to help encourage domestic uptake of alternate energy sources. However, there does not seem to be enough accessible information or incentive for people to look towards renewable energies.
The general consensus is that it is still too foreign and confusing and paying for the systems is too expensive. People are still of the opinion that installing renewable heating in the home requires a large sum of money up front meaning that many people within the UK believe that it is not an option for them.
Replacing traditional energy systems with green energy will both help to decrease fuel poverty in the UK and also overall carbon emissions. If renewable energy is made more affordable and accessible to more people it will make fuel poverty a thing of the past.