Fuel poverty occurs when a household is unable to heat it's home to an adequate level.
The most widely accepted definition of a 'fuel poor' household is one that needs to spend more than 10 per cent of it's income on fuel to heat the home to an adequate standard for warmth. The temperatures recommended by the World Health Organisation are 21 degrees C in the living room and 18 degrees C in other occupied rooms.
Causes and effects of fuel poverty
Fuel poverty can be caused by a combination of different factors:
- Low household income
- Poor energy efficiency
- Under occupancy
- Fuel prices
- Poor education and lack of awareness
The effects of fuel poverty are well documented. There is a clear link between living in a cold and/or damp house and ill health. Excess winter deaths in the UK are much higher than those in other European countries experiencing far more severe winters.
If you are struggling to pay your fuel bills contact your energy supplier. You may be eligible for a reduced rate social tariff and be able to work out an affordable re-payment plan. Plymouth Energy Community have a Fuel Debt Advice Service which can help residents apply for funding to clear utility debt.
The Citizens Advice Bureau also offer help. Their office address is 2nd Floor, Cobourg House, 32 Mayflower Street, Plymouth PL1 1QX or you can call them on 08448 269 717.
You may be paying more than you need to for your energy. If you haven't switched your supplier it's well worth checking to see if you can get a cheaper deal as many houseolders can save between £180 and £400 per year by switching. You will need to know either your annual usage in Kwh, or the amount you pay on your bills. You can find out more information by visiting the Plymouth Energy Community's switching page or calling 01752 477067.