Today is fuel poverty awareness day. Why does that matter? Because right here, right now in Bristol, 1 in every 8 households is in fuel poverty*.
Fuel poverty is widespread, and it is estimated that cold homes cost the NHS £3.6m per day**. Reduce fuel poverty and not only can we make people healthier, we can also take huge pressure of our health services.
Helping to address fuel poverty was one of the reasons why Bristol City Council set up Bristol Energy in 2016. The energy supplier is now marking its second birthday by setting up a new fuel poverty fund to do even more, and will pay into this fund when people switch.
The Fuel Good Fund will support a variety of initiatives across the city, including the Warmer Homes and Money (WHAM) project, a scheme set up three local charities: Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE), Talking Money and We Care Repair.
This project helps local residents who are struggling with high fuel bills and cold, damp homes. The support ranges from boiler repairs to draught-proofing, money advice to simply fitting a decent pair of curtains to keep out the cold.
The health implications of living in a cold home are serious, contributing to cardiovascular and respiratory problems. It also affects mental health. One in two British adults with a debt problem also has a mental health problem (Money Advice Trust).
Peter Haigh, Managing Director said: “We offer the fairest energy prices we can, but cheap energy bills alone will not help people out of fuel poverty. Too many people are living in homes that are putting their family’s health at risk. This new fund will help people access simple home improvements that could be life changing”.
Lisa Evans, leads the WHAM project for CSE: “We regularly meet people who are feeling the full impact of fuel poverty. A few years ago we visited mother of two severely asthmatic children who was so fed up with the mould covering the inside of her home she had painted the walls black, so she was spared the misery of looking at it.
In cases like these you don’t need to know the statistics to understand how much cold homes can impact people’s health and wellbeing. We want to make sure no Bristol resident suffers a cold home. Bristol Energy’s new fund will help support this mission.”
The consequences of a cold home can also be life threatening. A couple of years ago the CSE team met a client with severe respiratory problems, who needed to use an oxygen machine 24 hours a day.
At one of his hospital check-ups, a health worker discovered that the gentleman was at risk of having his power cut off, because he couldn’t afford to top-up his pre-payment meter. This would mean being unable to run his oxygen machine.
To try to keep up payments, he had been turning his heating off and staying in just one room. This caused severe anxiety, alongside the daily grind of dealing with debt, living in a cold uncomfortable home and consequently worsening health.
Bristol Energy and the Centre for Sustainable Energy will also be holding energy efficiency events across the city this year, showing people how to make simple changes to reduce their energy bills.
To find out more about Bristol Energy and the Fuel Good fund, visit: www.bristol-energy.co.uk/fuelgood
For more information, please contact Vikki Rogers: Vikki.rogers@bristol-energy.