Eastbourne residents are being urged to sign up to a campaign that is calling for more to be done to reduce fuel poverty and excess winter deaths.
Cold Homes Week, which runs from February 2 to February 7, aims to raise awareness of the issue and seek the support of the country’s politicians to make UK homes more energy efficient.
In Sussex alone, there were 950 excess winter deaths recorded in 2012/13, which are deaths over and above the average death rate during non-winter periods, mostly due to elderly people living in conditions that are just too cold.
Cold Homes Week is run by the Energy Bill Revolution (EBR), an alliance of more than 200 major charities, businesses and organisations, working to combat fuel poverty – a term given to households that cannot afford to keep their properties adequately warm at a reasonable cost, given their income.
OFTEC, the trade body for the oil-fired heating industry, is once again supporting Cold Homes Week by urging residents across Sussex to sign up to the campaign by visiting www.energybillrevolution.org. OFTEC will also be contacting all the major political parties and rural MPs to highlight the fuel poverty issue and call for more action to be taken.
Around 21,000 households in Sussex rely on oil for their central heating and the majority of these homes are older, rural properties with inadequate insulation levels. Therefore, even though oil prices have hit a four year low and are continuing to fall, these households are more likely to be in fuel poverty due to poor energy efficiency.
Malcolm Farrow, from OFTEC, said, “Proportionally, more older people, who are most at risk, live in rural areas and so are more likely to use oil for their central heating, which is why we are supporting the cause. While the unprecedented 24 per cent fall in heating oil prices is greatly helping households currently living in fuel poverty, more must be done to support them by improving insulation to stop their homes leaking heat - and money.
“In support of Cold Homes Week, we are calling on all of the main parties to introduce a generous boiler scrappage scheme covering all condensing types as part of their manifesto. This could help homeowners upgrade to a modern condensing oil boiler – a move which could cut their fuel bills by 50 per cent compared to this time last year. Fuel poverty is an urgent issue which needs to be tackled now.”
A free booklet, produced by OFTEC and Age UK, which advises households on how to maximise their heat over winter, can be downloaded at www.oilsave.org.uk.