Fuel Poverty UK: Beating Gas & Electricity Price Rises

Permaculture magazine
Thursday, 14th July 2011

Another tranche of figures suggests that the rise and rise of utility bills will plunge even more of us into fuel poverty. What's the sustainable solution to all of this?

It's the UK's summertime, yet ahead of our autumn (let alone our winter) the threat of fuel poverty is making the news. Why is this and what can we each do?

Figures released today from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) predict that fuel poverty in the UK is set to rise significantly. The figures show a rise of one million households affected by rising fuel costs over the past year, up to 5.5 million or 21% of homes.

A household is described as being in fuel poverty when it has to spend more than 10% of its income on heating.

The report says that between 2004 and 2009 electricity prices increased by over 75% and gas prices by over 122%.

It's easy to be downbeat about this - these kind of increases could be seen to negate the effort and money you may have put into your home to make it more energy efficient. On the other hand, those who have installed such energy saving measures are, little by little, insulating (no pun intended!) themselves from the effects of energy price rises.

And it's also true to say that the materials required to affordably renovate your home are becoming more accessible. Solar photovoltaics and solar water heating systems are dropping in price, and a new generation of clean-burn, dual combustion woodburners are available. And it goes without saying that these kind of measures should only be pursued after you have insulated and draft excluded your home up to the hilt, the materials for which have been steadily subsidised by energy companies (under duress from the Government!) for years.

Of course, retrofitting your home needn't always mean a trip to the DIY superstore. Upcycling – creative reuse of materials – is another strategy. So, get to know your local recycling centre. If you don't have one; look into setting one up!

We'd like to hear from anyone who has a low-tech, low-cost way to beat energy price rises. Let us know by commenting below...