Fuel poverty gap increases by 45% since 2020 as study identifies worst-hit region

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    Persistently high energy bill costs have widened the fuel poverty gap by as much as 45 percent since 2020, a new study shows.

    Heating solution experts, SNUGEL, found that despite UK energy caps and improvement in energy efficiency, the median fuel poverty gap in homes that are considered ‘fuel poor’ increased from £233 in 2020 to £338 in 2022.

    The average fuel poverty gap for England is measured by looking at the reduction in fuel costs needed for a household to not be in fuel poverty.

    In 2022, there were an estimated 3.2 million households in fuel poverty, up from 13 percent in 2021.

    Examining the current fuel poverty rating, energy efficiency and gas and electric ratings regionally, the study found a shocking 38,476 homes may not be able to afford to heat their homes as the UK hits record energy inflation rates this year.

    But of all regions in England, the study found a record number of people will face fuel poverty in the West Midlands, North West and North East.

    In the West Midlands, 5,150 households (18.5 percent) will be unable to afford to heat their homes – the highest included in the study – compared to 4,122 in the North West (18.5 percent) and 5,008 in the North East (19 percent).

    Meanwhile, the East Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber face a fuel poverty rate of 15.2 percent and 16.5 percent respectively.

    Johanna Lueders MBA, founder of SNUGEL, commented: “The cost of living crisis is having a devastating impact on households across the UK. With energy bills soaring, many people are struggling to heat their homes leading to an increase in the number of Warm Banks, with more people requiring warm public spaces they can visit when they are unable to afford heating costs”.

    Energy bills are set to rise again in January following Ofgem’s announcement that it will be raising the price cap by five percent.

    This will take the annual price for a typical duel-fuel household in England, Scotland and Wales up from £1,834 to an average of £1,928.

    While the price cap will be lower than what it was at the beginning of this year, Britons are being warned this winter’s energy bills are “likely” to be the highest they’ve ever been.

    Richard Neudegg, director of regulation at Uswitch.com, said: “This rate increase will bite during the coldest period of the year when households need to use the most energy. The price cap will go up by five percent from January due to the increases in the wholesale energy market.

    “This means energy bills are likely to be the highest they’ve ever been for most homes this winter. Between January and March, average bills will be £46 more expensive than the same period last year when the Government’s Energy Bill Support Scheme was in place.”

    For those struggling with costs and searching for more affordable ways to keep warm at home this winter, Ms Lueders has shared a few tips.

    Firstly, she suggested using hot water bottles or electric blankets. Ms Lueders said: “Fill hot water bottles with boiling water and place them in your bed before you go to sleep. You can also use an electric blanket to warm up your bed, but be sure to turn it off before you fall asleep.”

    Depending on the wattage, it can cost as little as 3p to run an electric blanket per hour. People can see what wattage their blanket is by checking the label.

    Ms Lueders said: “Dress in layers. Wearing layers of clothing will help you to trap heat and stay warm. Choose clothes made from natural materials, such as wool or cotton, as these are better insulators than synthetic materials.

    “Cover your head, neck, and hands. When you’re feeling cold, it’s important to maintain core body temperature, especially in areas where you lose the most heat such as your head, neck, and hands. Wear a hat, scarf, and gloves when you go outside, and keep a blanket handy to wrap around yourself when you are sitting indoors.

    “Drink warm liquids. Drinking warm liquids, such as tea, coffee, or soup, will help to warm you up from the inside out. Avoid sugary drinks, as they can dehydrate you and make you feel colder.”

    How is fuel poverty measured in England? 

    Fuel poverty in England is measured using the Low Income Low Energy Efficiency (LILEE) indicator. Under this indicator, a household is considered to be in fuel poverty if the following two conditions apply:

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