Although we have been fortunate in experiencing relatively mild temperatures so far this winter, the cold snap during the last week has helped turn our attention once again to rising energy costs, an issue that affects us all.
Figures released in December show that a quarter of UK households are now experiencing fuel poverty (spending more than 10% of their household income to achieve adequate warmth and light), and this figure is rising. The chances are, if you are not affected by this directly, you may well know a family or have an elderly relative who is.
This bears out the findings of the Hills report commissioned by the Department for Energy and Climate Change, that fuel poverty is distinct from income poverty, and is about both low income and high energy costs – it must therefore take into account not only income and fuel prices, but also the physical condition of homes.
So, with energy prices seemingly on an upward trajectory (notwithstanding recent minor reductions by some of the energy companies), what can we as consumers do to mitigate the effects? Whilst we wait for the government’s ‘market driven’ Green Deal to bear fruit, we should be doing all we can to promote practical, low cost ways of making our homes more energy efficient.
In Leicester, we are leading a consortium of community groups and other charities to develop a project for the Big Lottery’s Communities Living Sustainably programme. This seeks to better prepare communities for environmental change and understand the improvements they can make to live more sustainably. We also work with Leicester City Council, Leicester College and Stephenson College on Brighter Leicester, providing training for green jobs.
Better access to information on energy efficiency measures is key, and funding for more Green Doctors is badly needed. If you want to start taking action today, visit the EcoHouse, or contact the Energy Saving Trust. Do take action though. Acting on climate change and reducing your energy bills. It’s a win-win isn’t it?
Neil Hart, Development Coordinator