Improved Household Energy Efficiency is the Way to Combat Fuel Poverty

Energy efficiency measures prevented 35,000 Scottish households from falling into fuel poverty last year.  This was countered by rising energy prices linked to more people suffering from the cold weather, according to reports.

Statistics released today show that the installation of measures such as loft and cavity insulation, double glazing and new boilers have helped to reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and cut household energy requirements.

Around 1,500,000 dwellings (about 65%) were rated ‘good’ in terms of energy efficiency on the National Home Energy Rating (NHER) scale. This continues the upward trend from 31% considered ‘good’ in 2002 and is an increase of 3% since 2010.

Elizabeth Leighton, Senior Policy Officer at WWF Scotland said: “The results show that insulation is the best way of protecting people from rising energy bills. It is estimated that in an un-insulated home a third of all heat lost is through the walls and a quarter of heat through the roof.

“Nearly two thirds of households living in inefficient homes are in fuel poverty, an increase of 8% on 2010 figures. This demonstrates the need for minimum energy efficiency standards so people are not condemned to live in fuel poverty.”

Despite efforts by the Scottish Government to help reduce household energy bills, tens of thousands of families were pushed into fuel poverty in 2011 as a direct result of energy company price rises. The latest figures show that fuel poverty rates increased to 28.9%, affecting 684 000 households, which is 1 percentage point higher than 2010 levels (27.9%).

From July to October 2011, more than 102,000 households fell into this category after energy prices increased by 14%.

Housing and Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess said: “Rising energy bills are a huge concern for this government, and fuel poverty is an absolute scandal in an energy rich country like Scotland.

“The more that energy companies continue to implement punishing price increases, the more they are undoing the good work we are doing to tackle fuel poverty.

“That is why we are urging the UK government – who has responsibility in this area – to do more to help vulnerable people and ensure that our households are better protected.

“This government has allocated over £68 million in 2012-13 to energy efficiency and fuel poverty programmes to help individuals and families who are in most need of support. We also have in place a cash-back voucher scheme offering up to £500 per household for energy efficiency measures such as double glazing, loft and cavity wall insulation, and from today, energy efficient boilers and appliances for private sector landlords.”

Norman Kerr, Director of national fuel poverty charity Energy Action Scotland said: “The fact that more Scottish households are now in fuel poverty is very disappointing but not surprising as energy prices have gone up and people’s budgets generally are under pressure. Efforts to make homes energy efficient, so that less energy is needed to heat them, are more vital than ever and will clearly have to be increased.

“Our advice to the public is to check out if they are on the best fuel tariff and payment method for their needs, to shop around energy suppliers, and to take up the free or discounted insulation from Scottish Government programmes such as Home Energy Scotland. There is a tendency to think it won’t make a difference, but it does all help at these difficult times.”

Energy efficiency measures prevented 35, 000 Scottish households from falling into fuel poverty last year but this was countered by higher fuel poverty linked to rising energy prices, according to new figures.

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