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What Is Fuel Poverty?

With access to energy becoming increasingly restricted amid the cost of living crisis, it’s possible that growing numbers of households will experience fuel poverty, where it becomes unaffordable to heat up or cool down homes to suitable temperatures.

There are many causes for fuel poverty, ranging from poor energy efficiency and high fuel prices to low income, poor quality private rental housing and unaffordable housing prices.

One big issue at the moment is energy suppliers forcing customers to have prepayment meters (1) if they’re struggling to pay their bills, a more expensive method of paying than by direct debit.

However, this is often the only option for those experiencing financial difficulties who are in debt to their suppliers, while many rental properties come with prepayment meters as standard. 

Problems can then emerge if people don’t have any credit left on the meter and have no money with which to top it up, which means they’re then unable to heat their homes or cook.

Under England’s Low Income, Low Energy Efficiency indicator, households are classified as being fuel poor if they live in a house that has a fuel poverty energy efficiency rating of band D or below and if they are left with residual income below the official poverty line after spending the required amount to heat the property.

Fuel poverty and cold homes increases the risk of respiratory infections, cardiovascular diseases and poor mental health, with more and more households now facing realities such as this as a result of the cost of living crisis.

If you are finding it hard to pay your energy bills at the moment, it’s advisable to get in touch with your energy supplier as soon as you can. Make sure you let them know if there are any vulnerable people living in the property (whether it’s because of their age, disability, health or severe financial insecurity).

Thinking more long term, there are ways in which you can protect yourself against falling into fuel poverty in the future by improving the energy efficiency of your home. Insulation is essential for keeping homes warm, helping to reduce heat loss and keep your energy bills low.

There are a range of different insulation options available to you so you could make significant savings if your home is particularly draughty. Even small fixes like fitting your hot water cylinder with an insulating jacket could help reduce your heating costs.

It may be worth looking into the likes of cavity wall and solid wall insulation, as well as floor insulation, but one of the best places to begin is the roof and the loft, since the majority of the heat lost from your home is through the roof.

If you are struggling with debt at the moment because of cost of living challenges, get in touch with us today to see how we can help with utility bills debt advice.




Money Helper has replaced the Money Advice Service and brings together the support and services of three government-backed financial guidance providers: the Money Advice Service, the Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise.