The UK Government needs to leverage private investment in energy efficiency retrofits, grid flexibility and low carbon heat to help avoid the 10,000 annual deaths attributed to fuel poverty each year, says the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day.
Fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) states as many as four million UK households suffer from fuel poverty, which is when rising energy costs, low incomes and energy inefficient homes combine and result in people being unable to afford to heat their homes.
As the energy price crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic continue into the winter season, bringing with them increased physical, mental and financial risks for vulnerable households, government action needs to drive the adoption of the technologies that can help.
Existing policies need to deliver on making capital investment into the key areas of green retrofits, heat networks and flexibility technologies easier – the finance is in many cases already available, but there is no easy way for it to be invested into infrastructure capable of tackling fuel poverty in the long term.
Energy efficiency retrofits that could significantly reduce both fuel poverty and greenhouse gas emissions are in most cases bizarrely disincentivised with steep 20% VAT rates – the ADE calls on policymakers to make exemptions in this area to help bring the UK’s housing stock up to standard and to tackle climate change.
By combining retrofits such as these with plentiful and affordable access to low carbon heat networks, we can solve both heat supply and demand for those in poverty.
Dr Joanne Wade OBE, Chief Strategic Advisor at the ADE, said:
It is unacceptable that in Britain today millions of families live in homes that are cold, damp and unhealthy. The decarbonisation of the energy system must include a transformation of our housing so that everyone can live in a comfortable, healthy home. Solutions that combine building fabric energy efficiency, efficient provision of low carbon heat and a smart, flexible electricity system are the only way to ensure this.