More than three in ten Brits say they are simply too scared to put their heating on through fear of crippling fuel bills and a staggering 32 percent said they will struggle to heat their homes this winter. This is according to a recent extensive study that provides a snapshot of the fuel poverty crisis in the UK as we enter the winter months.
The research marks the start of Solarplicity’s movement to end fuel poverty in partnership with Community Energy England, by educating customers to switch and save from the “Big Six” as well as give away 1 million kWh to 100 of the UK’s most in need.
The movement is being fronted by actress and presenter Sherrie Hewson who wants to take action on the crisis that sweeps the UK every winter: “It is a major emotional drain for so many people to be faced with day in day out. More than half of us are concerned about someone in fuel poverty, making it more important to highlight the issue and help those most in need – particularly the older generation. I am proud to be supporting the movement from Solarplicity and Community Energy England by helping spread awareness of the help that is available to those struggling this year.”
The research surveyed people from across the UK of all ages above 16 and reveals millions are facing a fuel poverty crisis this year, with a staggering 43 percent stating the cost of heating their house forces them to think twice before turning it on.
16 percent of those surveyed said they spend more than 10 percent of their monthly income on fuel - the official yardstick of fuel poverty. However, for many it is a monthly worry with 32 percent often finding themselves facing a fuel poverty “crisis” depending on how much money they have earned that month.
Unsurprisingly the emotional impact that comes with the burden has resulted in many feeling unhappy and even depressed when they receive a heating bill (30 percent).
What’s more, the results extend beyond the 1,500 participants – a further half of those polled (48 percent) said they knew at least one person who will struggle to afford to keep their home warm this winter - of those, 94 percent said they were concerned about their welfare.
In a bid to keep warm, 48 percent wear more clothes to keep warm, 45 percent use extra blankets and throws on their beds and another 45 percent use draft excluders to keep the heat in.
Emma Bridge, Chief Executive, Community Energy England, whose works investigates fuel poverty within communities said: “Solarplicity’s research shows that 40 percent of those surveyed said they had never spoken to a fuel poverty outreach worker to help with their heating issues but would be keen to seek help. It is important that vulnerable people don’t feel stigmatised about asking for help and that help is readily available locally. Cold living conditions can promote cardiovascular illness and condensation damp related respiratory illness. In Britain in 2017, this preventable health risk to the most vulnerable in society is not acceptable.”
Further to providing a snapshot of the fuel poverty crisis in the UK, the survey also revealed that 60 percent simply don’t trust the ‘Big Six’ energy companies to be honest and transparent. Most people polled (67 percent) thought they are only interested in profit, while 65 percent think they continually put up prices and they never tell you if you’re on the wrong tariff (43 percent).
Ex-England Rugby Player and Non-Executive Director for Solarplicity, Austin Healey also added: “Unlike the ‘Big Six’, Solarplicity’s mission is simple – energy that is renewable, transparent and fair for all. Our mission is to tackle fuel poverty in the UK by guaranteeing a tariff that is cheaper than the ‘Big Six’ with no standing charges, as well as giving away 1 million kwh of energy to those most in need.”
As part of their mission to end fuel poverty, Solarplicity will be giving away 1 million kwh of energy to the UK’s most in need in partnership with Community Energy England. Working with the charity, it will identify 100 elderly individuals who will receive free energy through solar installations.