Rural Fuel Poverty
Fuel poverty statistics released by the department of Energy and Climate Change in August 2013 stated that, using the new Low Income High Cost Indicator, there are 2.6 million fuel poor households in England. Of these, an estimated 500,000 fuel poor households live in rural locations. Whilst confirming that the main drivers of fuel poverty remain the poor energy efficiency of the housing stock, available income and energy cost, the DECC report also revealed a number of other factors which can cause or exacerbate fuel poverty:
• Households living in the most energy inefficient dwellings (those with a SAP rating of E or below) are much more likely to be fuel poor and to have higher fuel poverty gaps.
• Fuel poor households that heat their properties with oil, solid fuel, LPG or electricity typically have individual fuel poverty gaps double the average, typically over £1000.
• Households with other non-cavity wall types (usually solid) are much more likely to be fuel poor than those with insulated cavity walls, and have much higher average fuel poverty gaps.
• Households without duel fuel or paying for their electricity by pre-payment meter are more likely to be fuel poor than those paying by other methods.
• Households in dwellings built before 1964 are more likely to be fuel poor than those in more modern dwellings, and also tend to have the largest average fuel poverty gaps.
All of these issues are often prevalent in rural areas. Rural residents are more likely to live in older, larger dwellings, possibly stone-built and very often with solid floors and high ceilings. It is estimated that 1.9 million fuel poor households occupy solid walled properties, many of which are located in rural areas. The average SAP rating is 34 for hamlets and isolated homes, 40 in villages and 50 in urban areas. The nature of the building stock in rural areas limits the range of energy efficient technologies that can be employed.
Because of these circumstances fuel poverty is more likely to prevail in rural and/or off gas areas. This is also illustrated through the higher fuel poverty gap of rural fuel poor households - £588 against an average gap of £404 for all households and £361 for urban households.
As such, whilst greater numbers of fuel poor households reside within urban locations, the problem of fuel poverty is likely to be most acute in many rural and off gas locations.
However, in spite of this, rural areas, and particularly those located off the mains gas grid, have seen little dedicated support or activity to alleviate the problem. Calor is working with government, rural interest groups, utilities, charities and NGO's to address this growing problem, through a combination of practical support and awareness raising both within rural communities and government.
Calor National Energy Action Joint Policy Briefing – September 2013:
In September 2013 Calor published a joint policy briefing with National Energy Action, “Energy and Equity - Access to Government Programmes for Rural and Off Gas Households in England” which discusses how Government policies, aimed at tackling he various causes of fuel poverty are often not delivered in an equitable way that is fair to all households whether they live in an urban or rural area. The briefing examines some of these inequities and considers how they can be addressed as the Government shapes its new Fuel Poverty Strategy.
Future of Rural Energy England
FREE is a three year £1 million initiative funded by Calor to help tackle fuel poverty and promote effective energy efficiency advice and behaviour in off-gas grid communities across Britain.
FREE year 1 report (June 2011)
The results of this report have provided for the first time a picture of what rural fuel poverty really looks like across the English regions. Clearly levels of fuel poverty differ between and even within regions and that assistance programmes must be tailored to suit local demand.
FREE year 2 report
The main component of the year 2 report was the undertaking of the Village Energy Audits (VEAs) in off-mains villages. The results demonstrate that opportunities for energy efficiency improvements exist in large numbers in rural communities and that existing energy efficiency programmes such as CERT and CESP are not being delivered successfully or at scale into rural areas.
England Fuel Poverty Map
Locations of households in fuel poverty in off mains gas areas in England.
Wales Fuel Poverty Map
Locations of households in fuel poverty in off mains gas areas in Wales.
Scotland Fuel Poverty Map
Locations of households in fuel poverty in off mains gas areas in Scotland.
The Energy Saving Trust Brochure
The EST, in collaboration with Calor, have produced a comprehensive guide for rural homeowners to stop wasting money and energy in the home .
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