Welcome to Action for Affordable Warmth
What is Affordable Warmth?
Affordable Warmth is the ability to heat your home to an adequate level for household comfort and health, without developing a debt as a result.
The lack of affordable warmth is known as “fuel poverty”. The Government accepts that households needing to spend 10% or more of income to achieve adequate warmth for health and comfort are experiencing fuel poverty. This is the case for between 4.3 and 6.9 million households in England (the lower figure is achieved when housing benefit received is included as “income”).
The impacts of fuel poverty can include discomfort, damp from condensation, fuel debt, ill health and social exclusion. Also strongly linked to poor thermal standards in housing is the complex issue of excess winter mortality, where there is an increase in the number of deaths in the winter months as compared with those in spring and autumn. Comparisons between England and other northern European countries show that the incidence of excess winter deaths is markedly higher in England. (Data from NEA).
Fuel poverty is clearly linked to general poverty and deprivation, but it has distinct characteristics and causes. Low income and multiple debt form part of the picture but additional factors are linked to the varying cost of heating different homes. These include; the condition of housing, access to, and the cost of, the fuels used for heating and the energy efficiency of a home. An analysis of home energy efficiency indicates that the main factors contributing to fuel poverty are low levels of thermal insulation, and the efficiency, or inefficiency, of appliances used for heating, hot water and other needs.
Another factor to consider is that certain households have a greater requirement for heat than others. This may be a need for higher indoor temperatures, or for longer hours of heating than the average household. Groups particularly affected include people that are at home during the day due to unemployment or long term sickness / disability, pensioners, families with young children and their carers. These households often have lower than average incomes, although they may not necessarily be in receipt of a benefit. These groups are also likely to have less access to capital to improve their situation through upgrades to the building or appliances.
By improving the energy efficiency of a property it is easier to ensure that the property becomes “fuel poverty-proof” – so that any future occupier can afford to heat the property to a satisfactory level, regardless of their particular circumstances.
Fuel Poverty and Affordable Warmth in Gloucestershire & South Gloucestershire
Most of the information presented in this section is taken from the Maiden Database, data supplied by each of the local authorities in Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire and the Fuel Poverty Indicator (www.fuelpovertyindicator.org.uk) developed by the Centre for Sustainable Energy and the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research at the University of Bristol.
This is not by any means a complete data set and is not intended to give a definitive view or comparison of the energy efficiency of housing in the different local authority areas. The aim is rather to give a general idea of the current situation and the challenge that lies ahead.
Fuel poverty results from the combined effect of low household income, the rising cost of fuel, inadequate and expensive forms of heating and poor insulation standards.
There are over 21 million households in the United Kingdom (Census 2001). Around 4.5 million are in fuel poverty (National Energy Action). When fuel prices rise, hundreds of thousands of additional households fall immediately into fuel poverty. Most at risk are older people, single parent families and people with poor health or disabilities who may have a higher than average need for warmth.
Individual households can move in and out of fuel poverty if their income or family circumstances change. We aim to help individual households in fuel poverty, but also to reduce the risk to everyone by improving all housing.
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