Temperatures in the UK are set to drop again this week, with Arctic temperatures and heavy snow predicted for most areas.
The “Beast from the East” is the latest in a long line of cold snaps this winter, highlighting the issue of fuel poverty and preventable winter deaths in the UK.
Following Fuel Poverty Awareness Day on 23rd February 2018, OFTEC have warned that more action must be taken to prevent the rising number of deaths linked to living in cold homes and that more support to upgrade boilers for vulnerable households would be a vital step towards achieving this.
Preventable deaths rising
Despite pledging to tackle fuel poverty, funding from ECO, the government’s scheme for improving the energy efficiency of low-income and vulnerable households was cut by 40% in March 2016.
During the winter of 2016/17, figures from Office for National Statistics show a 40% rise in excess winter deaths when compared to the same period the previous year.
What can be done to combat fuel poverty?
OFTEC has called on the government to renew support for the ECO Scheme beyond September 2018, with specific focus on replacing boilers currently used in rural areas to combat the “unacceptable number” of winter deaths.
The second phase of the ECO Scheme (from April 2017) has seen a move away from boiler replacement towards improving insulation. OFTEC say that limits on new boilers will continue to lead to vulnerable households in England and Wales losing money on inefficient systems, when a simple boiler upgrade could reduce household fuel bills by £300 per year.
OFTEC chief executive Paul Rose said:
“For too long now government has recognised the interlinked issues of fuel poverty and excess winter deaths, describing the situation as ‘scandalous’ and ‘unacceptable’. Yet policy to address the problem remains painfully inadequate.
“Changes to ECO have seen insulation become the key priority.
Whilst insulation is a welcome step, it will not solve the issue of fuel poverty by itself, particularly as many rural properties were built pre-1920, making them difficult to cost effectively treat.”
How can consumers maximise their heating?
As part of Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, OFTEC offers the following advice to households on low cost ways to maximise their heating.
- Adjust your heating timers as the weather changes
- Bleed radiators to make them more effective
- Improve insulation to reduce heat loss
- Purchase heating oil early to avoid emergency call out charges
- Have your boiler serviced by a qualified registered technician (OFTEC for oil or GasSafe for mains gas) to check the system is working correctly and efficiently.
This is great advice for installers to pass on to their customers – not only are you providing them with potentially life-saving advice but it might also encourage them to book their boiler servicing with you.