Article by Ed Matthew, Director at the Energy Bill Revolution
This week sees the launch of Cold Homes Week in which tens of thousands of people are being asked to email their MP, demanding an end to the scandal of cold homes. The action is led by the Energy Bill Revolution alliance, which includes members such as Barnardo’s and Age-UK.
The campaign is calling on the Government to use carbon tax to make UK homes super energy efficient. The UK has some of the worst insulated homes in Europe and unless our housing stock is fixed we will never solve the UK’s cold home crisis.
As a result of such poor insulation, we have one of the worst rates of fuel poverty, second only to Estonia out of 27 European countries. It’s a shocking record and creates real suffering. There were 31,000 winter deaths last winter and a number of these could have been prevented if people lived in well insulated homes.
It is not just older people who suffer. The Energy Bill Revolution has revealed that at the start of 2014 there are 2 million children living in fuel poverty in England alone. More and more families have to make the choice between heating and eating. That is unacceptable in the UK, one of the richest countries in the world.
But there is hope. The Energy Bill Revolution alliance is the biggest fuel poverty campaign in the world, with over 100 leading UK charities and businesses on board. We want the UK to make home energy efficiency the UK’s number one infrastructure investment priority. If we can afford to spend £50 billion on a high speed rail link why can’t we afford to insulate homes to stop people dying from the cold?
It is hard to think of an investment which could contribute as much. Using carbon tax to insulate homes could bring nine out of ten homes out of fuel poverty and in time provide financial support to help everyone reduce their energy bills.
The average household could save over £300 every single year. It is the most affordable way to cut the carbon emissions and would increase energy security be reducing the amount of gas we import. And economists tell us a big energy efficiency programme for UK homes could create 100,000 British jobs and high growth levels. There is nothing to lose and much to gain.