Fuel Poverty

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Get key information on fuel poverty. Discover what fuel poverty is and ways to prevent being classed as fuel poor.

What is fuel poverty?

A household is said to be in fuel poverty if its occupants are unable to afford to keep it adequately heated. An individual can be defined as being “fuel poor” if he or she has to spend more than 10% of their income on energy bills. 

The Fuel Poverty Energy Efficiency Rating

The government gives every home in the UK a rating from A to G (A being the most efficient and G being the worst) called the Fuel Poverty Energy Efficiency Rating (FPEER). It measures a home’s energy efficiency while taking into account different policies that directly affect energy costs. 

About half of all fuel poor homes in England were in Band D and nearly 8% were in Band C and above. A household’s Band rating relates to its level of fuel poverty. Homes in Band G had an average fuel poverty gap of almost £1,500 compared to a gap of just under £200 for fuel poor households in Band B.

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UK fuel poverty

According to National Energy Action (NEA), the number of households in fuel poverty in England was estimated at around 2.6 million in 2016, representing approximately 11.1% of all households. This is an increase from 2.5 million households (11.0%) in 2015 (an increase of 2%). With gas and electricity prices perpetually rising, the number of fuel poor households seem to be growing also.

What causes fuel poverty?

Fuel poverty is caused by a combination of three factors. A low income, the cost of fuel and an energy-inefficient home. A household with poor energy efficiency includes homes with low levels of insulation and old or inefficient heating systems such as boilers and radiators.

Help with fuel poverty

If you’re unemployed or living on a low income, paying your energy bills can be a struggle. Rather than shy away from bills you can’t manage, it’s important to work with your supplier if you’re in danger of missing a payment. 

Most energy providers are trained to assist customers who need advice and they can help you find a more suitable way to manage your payments. In addition, there's the Priority Services Register and a number of government initiatives tailored towards those on the brink of fuel poverty. They include the:

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