Following the announcement of a new energy price cap by Ofgem, Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay has called for the urgent introduction of a government-backed home insulation programme to protect those most at risk of fuel poverty this winter.
The energy regulator Ofgem announced last Friday (25 August) a further reduction to its energy price cap for the last quarter of 2023, a change which will bring the average duel-fuel energy bill bellow £2,000 a year for the first time since April 2022.
The drop reflects a fall in wholesale energy prices as the market stabilises and suppliers return to relative financial stability, but the price still remains well above the pre-2021 average – before the energy crisis took hold.
In a recent survey of 4,000 UK households, nearly half (46 per cent) said they did not turn their heating on when it was cold last winter, with lower-income households and those aged 45-64 most likely to avoid warming their homes in order to save money on energy bills.
Sitting at freezing temperatures at home can contribute to serious health issues, increasing the risk of developing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases such as asthma attacks, infections, heart disease, and strokes.
According to The Renewable Energy Hub, having insulation installed could cut a household’s energy bills by around £250 or more each year, helping to keep more homes warm for less. Cavity wall, loft and DIY floor insulation, if installed, would all pay for themselves through energy savings within two to four years.
Responding to the price cap, Ramsay said: “Our recent research shows that certain groups – such as lower-income households and families with children – are more likely to be left in the cold this winter”
“The new price cap underlines the urgent need for a government-backed home insulation programme targeted, in the first instance, at those most at risk of fuel poverty.
“The government should be announcing funding and support for local councils to start a mass programme of cost-saving home insulation. With the right funding and determination, such a scheme could start to help people from this winter.
“Even with a lower price cap, bills are still higher than before the energy crisis and are likely to remain high for the future.
“Figures released earlier this week suggested that almost half of all British households – 13m homes – said they did not turn on their heating when it got cold last winter.
“The average home could save hundreds of pounds a year with decent insulation and the government needs to support councils to reach them as soon as possible. Insulating people’s homes means they can stay warm while using less energy, save money and produce fewer harmful carbon emissions.
“A mass programme of government-backed, council-delivered home insulation starting before winter is a win-win solution for people and the planet. Government support should extend an emergency grant to homeowners and landlords aiming urgent support at those most in need.
“And it is well beyond time to break the link between electricity and gas prices that so distorts the market that it pushes up electricity prices for the public even as cheaper renewable electricity sources could be pushing prices down.
“We have the opportunity now, starting with support for the most at-risk people, to create warmer, more comfortable homes and in the process create millions of jobs, reduce bills and cut carbon emissions."