Keeping people warm at home
Cold homes have one of the most tangible and immediate impacts on people’s health and wellbeing: they exacerbate illness, contribute to NHS costs and are closely related excess winter deaths.
There are around 280,000 homes in England’s private rented sector and 810,000 owner-occupied homes in Bands F and G - that’s over a million homes with the lowest two energy efficiency bands.
The cost and affordability of heating a home to a safe and healthy temperature is also important. In 2014, the number of households in fuel poverty in England was estimated at 2.38 million, representing approximately 11% of all English households and this has increased to 2.53m in 2017. The rate of fuel poverty in NI is 42%.
We published updated CIEH excess cold enforcement guidance in December 2019. This is aimed at helping practitioners enforce excess cold in the private rented sector.
Why is it so important?
Cold homes impact on both the mental and physical wellbeing - from respiratory disease to depression. With many people unable to afford to heat their energy inefficient homes. Cold homes and fuel poverty make up a significant proportion of the costs for the NHS and society as a result of poor quality housing.
Excess winter deaths were around 50,000 in 2017/18, having increased from 24,000 in 2015/16. A third of these are estimated to be directly related to living in a cold home.
What do we want to see?
- The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards for private rented sector properties need to be raised further, with a clear and effective trajectory being published to show how the standard will be brought up to Band C by 2030.
- The new Fuel Poverty Strategy in England needs to set ambitious targets, bringing homes up to Band C as quickly as possible, as well as ensuring that hard to treat properties are not left behind.
- Tax incentives to encourage homeowners to bring their homes up to standard, such as reductions in VAT for energy efficiency home improvement measures.
We’re campaigning for change
The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards set a cap of £3,500 for landlords to bring their homes up to a Band E standard. Whilst this cost cap is a step in the right direction, this is estimated to leave around 50% of homes in lower two bands (F and G). We will be working to influence the future trajectory towards Band C to ensure no homes are left languishing in the lowest bands because these properties are difficult to treat.
Read our parliamentary briefing on energy efficiency, which sets out our key asks for action in this area. This briefing is focussed on England but we are working on separate briefings on energy efficiency for the other UK nations which will be launched in the Autumn.
We are members of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition. As part of this, we are campaigning for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) to be given EPCs and minimum standards for energy efficiency like other rented properties. This should ensure that vulnerable groups living in this type of accommodation are also protected from the effects of cold homes.