Recent studies have shown 25% of single parent households and 13.1% of all households in the North West, were in fuel poverty. This equates to 16,133 individual homes in Sefton.
A household is classed as being in fuel poverty if…
- Their fuel costs are above average and
- Their disposable income (after housing and fuel costs) is below the poverty line
Many people who are struggling with fuel poverty may be burning unsuitable fuels such as rubbish and old furniture, sometimes even in an open fireplace rather than a stove.
Burning in this way is highly inefficient, enclosed stoves are estimated to be 60% more efficient than an open fire and can produce four times as much heat in the room from the same amount of fuel.
If you think that you or somebody you know may suffer from fuel poverty then detailed below are some helpful tips.
Affordable Warmth Scheme
Arranged by Sefton Council, they can provide advice on both fuel debt and regular debt as the two are commonly linked. They are also able to aid you in finding and applying for funding towards your bills and home renovations which will reduce your energy bills.
Sefton Council Affordable Warmth Scheme contact number is 01519342222.
The affordable warmth team will come over to your home and explain the possible schemes which they can help you to apply for.
The current warm home funding can help fund the installation of gas central heating until 2021. If you currently live off the main gas grid such as in certain areas of Blundell or Lunt then this scheme can still help you if you are eligible by installing an LPG gas central heating system. Further details can be found on this page.
Being proactive with fuel poverty
If you are struggling with bills then alongside the help above, you can try these tips for ways of saving money
Move to a cheaper supplier.
With the popularity of comparison websites it has never been easier to switch your energy company. A lower gas or electricity bill may mean that you can afford to heat your home through central heating or through buying the correct fuels.
Contact the “Energy Savings Trust”
They can provide free, impartial advice online.
The Energy Savings Trust provide their advice on a wide range of topics covering how to reduce your energy bills by insulating your home and how to apply for help with paying your bills.
Check for local schemes.
Inserting your postcode into this website can show you any grants local to your area, these are means tested and aimed at helping vulnerable members of society and often help towards the cost of winter energy bills for those applicable.
Contact your energy supplier.
Many energy suppliers offer their own form of help in reduction of your bills, these are mainly aimed at households claiming benefits or those on a very low income. ECO is also a system whereby your energy supplier could cover part or all of the costs of home improvements such as cavity wall installation or a new, more efficient boiler.
These improvements will then in turn save you money and make it cheaper to heat your home. Having to use less fuel will be better for the health of the occupants but if you used these savings to buy a cleaner burning fuel it would be even better for the health.
Apply for relevant national grants.
The government has several grants aimed to reduce fuel poverty. Pensioners or those on a low household income may qualify for £140 towards your electricity bill through the “Warm Home Scheme”. The “Cold Weather Payment” pays £25 to vulnerable homes when the temperature drops below 0 C for at least 7 days, this payment is available for every 7 day block over winter. The “Winter Fuel Payment” provides between £100-300, this is predominantly for pensioners but also covers those claiming certain benefits.
Save in other areas.
It could be possible that you could take shorter showers, run your washing machine only when it’s full and fix any leaky taps—these would all reduce your water bill and so allow you more money in your budget to spend on gas, electricity or other utilities.
It is important to consider the effect that a colder than advised house would have on your health. It is advised that living rooms should be 21oC and the rest of the home should be at 18oC, especially in cases of elderly, young or otherwise vulnerable members of the home. However, the minimum advised is to just ensure the rooms which you are using are at least at 18oC.
Although this may affect the young, elderly or sick more, a cold home would affect everybody within that home.
A cold home can reduce your body’s ability to fight infection and can even thicken your blood, potentially causing clots. Cold weather with no respite of a warm home can trigger asthma and even more serious respiratory illnesses such as COPD.
The Warm Front evaluation study has linked home temperature to mental health, these temperatures alone can cause anxiety which is then impacted upon by the constant worry over paying bills.
Burning waste wood or rubbish also has health implications and so is not an appropriate way to heat a home. These materials can give off harmful chemicals when burnt and can also leave deposits on a chimney, blocking the chimney faster than an efficient fuel and potentially causing carbon monoxide poisoning.