Many people living in Rhondda Cynon Taf are not aware they are in fuel poverty and chose to turn off the heating which may have negative impacts on their health.
Cold homes, energy inefficient housing and high levels of health related illnesses are amongst the most evident signs of a problem that affects the most vulnerable residents living in our area
What are the effects of fuel poverty?
- Cold, damp housing has been proven to cause or exacerbate a range of health problems including respiratory and heart diseases, asthma, bronchitis and strokes. This places extra winter burden on the NHS, increasing hospital admission rates and preventing timely discharge.
- Excess winter deaths – every winter 20 to 30,000 extra deaths are recorded than in the equivalent summer period. 30 to 50% of these deaths are thought to be due to poor housing which does not provide adequate protection against winter weather.
- Reduced disposable income to buy other essentials such as food or clothing
- Mental health problems – a cold home can be an oppressive place to live and rising debt from energy bills can cause stress .
- Social exclusion – less money is available for social and recreational activities, and householders may not want to invite people into a cold, damp home.
Why are people in fuel poverty?
The likelihood of having to spend more than 10% of income on heating is related to:
- Low household disposable income.
- Level of household insulation – an un-insulated home can cost up to £250 a year more to heat than a well insulated home.
- Energy efficiency of household appliances – particularly the heating system – replacing a 15 year old boiler will reduce a household heating bill by about a third.
- Number of occupants – under occupancy results in extra energy being consumed to heat unused spaces.
- Time spent in the home – some people spend more time at home than others, for example the elderly, the infirm, the unemployed or families with small children. These people will need to have their heating on for longer periods than, for example households that are empty from 9am-5pm.
Who is most likely to suffer from fuel poverty?
Households most likely to suffer from fuel poverty include
- Low income families who will have to spend a high proportion of their income on energy
- The elderly or the infirm, in particular elderly persons living on their own
- Young families, especially single parent families
- People suffering from long-term health problems
Generally anyone who has a low-income and/or spends a large amount of their time in the home and as a result have to heat it for longer periods are at risk.
What to do if you are struggling to pay your energy bills or think you are suffering from fuel poverty?
If you think you may be suffering from fuel poverty or would like further information and advice please contact the Energy Saving Trust on FREEPHONE 0800 512 012 or online
You can also look at the energy savings tips and/or energy efficiency grants information to help reduce costs of heating your home.
What is Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council doing to help households in fuel poverty?
Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council and its partners are committed to reducing fuel poverty and have recently developed an Affordable Warmth Strategy and Action Plan 2007-2012 to address fuel poverty across all tenures, improve health and well-being and tackle energy conservation by bringing all partners and projects together to provide a co-ordinated approach to eradicating fuel poverty.
The link between fuel poverty and health has been clearly established and we are working to tackle this in a number of ways from raising awareness, signposting eligible households to available grants and encouraging the installation of energy efficiency measures in a person’s home while also encouraging more energy efficient behaviour, maximising income and providing support for excluded and vulnerable people
For further information on insulation grants, fuel poverty or general energy efficiency information please contact the Energy Saving Trust on FREEPHONE 0800 512 012 or to speak to someone at the Council please ring the Private Sector Grants Team on 07768252723 / 01443 281136. Further information on current energy efficiency grants available can be found here.