EndoTherm Fighting Fuel Poverty
The latest government statistics published in the Annual Fuel Poverty Statistics Report 2016 reports that fuel poverty affects over 2.38 million households in England and many more around the UK. This figure represents over 10% of all English households and has increased since 2013.
What is fuel poverty?
Previously a fuel poor household was defined as spending more than 10% of its income on fuel to heat the home to a satisfactory standard (21°C in the living room and 18°C in other occupied rooms). However, in 2013 The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published Fuel Poverty: a framework for future action which set the definition as:
- They have required fuel costs that are above average (the national median level).
- Were they to spend that amount, they would be left with a residual income below the official poverty line.
What is the fuel poverty gap?
The fuel poverty gap was also defined in the DECC fuel poverty framework as a new indicator to measure the severity of the problem faced by fuel poor households.
The fuel poverty gap is defined as the difference between a household’s modelled (average) bill and what their bill would need to be for them to no longer be fuel poor.
The fuel poverty gap provides a method of identifying the extent and depth of fuel poverty and highlight homes that are suffering the most severely.
What causes fuel poverty?
Current definitions determine fuel poverty is driven by three key factors: energy costs, household incomes and energy efficiency in the home. The first two are intrinsically linked and simply put, the cost of heating is rising higher than that of inflation and average wages.
In 2013, calculations by Citizens Advice revealed gas prices rose eight times higher than the average income in the UK, and this trend is continuing into 2017. Global unrest, increases in consumption, economic uncertainty and resource availability are all expected to cause fuel bills to continue to rise for the foreseeable future.
The UK is fortunate to be spatially located next to a large gas reserve in the North Sea. This resource is, however, finite and there is a real lack of investment in renewable technologies to provide the energy mix needed to reduce our reliance on natural gas and other fossil fuels in the near future. Schemes like Feed-in-Tariffs for solar and onshore wind exploded onto the scene and subsequently crashed. The Renewable Heat Incentive has caused great political turmoil in Northern Ireland through a lack of understanding and misuse and government focus on alternative energy sources like nuclear has only added to uncertainty in the renewable sector.
As an individual, there is little that can be done to affect average wage or energy prices in the UK, but energy efficiency is a positive step that can be taken on a personal, local and national level to help reduce fuel poverty. Although defined above as a cause of fuel poverty it is also a solution. The UK’s ambitious carbon budgets to reduce emissions by at least 35% (below 1990 levels) in 2020 and 80% by 2050 have stimulated the energy efficiency market.
When done correctly, energy efficiency can have a huge positive impact on households and a subsequent knock-on effect to the health and lifestyle of its occupiers. The Gentoo Group ran a report in collaboration with Bangor University to look at the energy saving/fuel poverty benefits of its boiler replacement and energy efficiency schemes. Across all their retrofit work, they were able to demonstrate carbon reductions of around 25% and monetary savings of £125 per annum. What was not expected but captured by communications with customers was an improvement in health and well being of the occupants of these properties.
The anecdotal evidence was overwhelming, and consequently, Gentoo ran a 6-month trial monitoring the health improvements of residents living in the homes that had the thermal efficiency improved through new boiler installs and other measures. Over these six months they recorded:
- 35.6% reduction in gas consumption.
- £29.91 saving on gas per month.
- 42% increase in average living room temperature and 14% in bedroom temperature.
- 28% reduction in GP appointments and 33% in hospital outpatient appointments.
Available Energy Efficiency Improvement Technologies
Unfortunately many pioneering energy efficiency schemes rely heavily on government subsidies to survive, and the market is going down a similar path as renewables five years ago. For example, a number of ECO boiler replacement schemes have already been scrapped before they could have a significant benefit to the UK population.
Technologies like insulation are expensive and therefore selective whilst other technologies like smart meters rely on a huge behavioural change to show significant benefit and there is a clear lack of education on using smart meters once they have been installed.
Energy Efficiency can, however, be a self-supporting marketplace and there are many smaller, inexpensive technologies that individual homeowners can implement within their homes to take a proactive stance against fuel poverty. On a national scale, these technologies can have a significant impact on the UK’s energy spend and carbon emissions. These technologies include improved controls (such as TRV’s), draft excluders, and modern technologies including energy saving additives for wet heating systems.
How EndoTherm can change Fuel Poverty
The performance of EndoTherm and its impact on fuel poverty has been tested by Welsh social housing provider Trivallis as part of their continuing effort to reduce fuel poverty within its 10,000 households. Almost one third of homes in Wales are classed as being fuel poor (almost 386,000 households) and Trivallis have been at the forefront of a number of energy efficiency and reduction projects including their obligations under the Community Energy Savings Programme (CESP).
EndoTherm was trialled as part of Trivallis’s research into emerging and innovative products by Atega Ltd using methodology set out by the Energy Saving Trust. Fanhuelog Sheltered Accommodation Scheme with numerous one or two bedroomed flats was chosen due to the similarity between each system.
A comparison before and after EndoTherm was conducted compensating for external and internal weather temperatures whilst also comparing against control sites where EndoTherm was not installed.
The average saving was 13.99% would save these small bedsits £33.20 per annum but projections showed larger annual savings for larger properties. A typical two bedroom house using 12,000kWh was projected to save £93.60 per annum whilst a larger three bedroom house (using 15,000kWh) would save £117 per annum.
EndoTherm is inexpensive, easy to install and can be implemented in over 90% of UK households in both gas and off-grid wet heating systems.
How it Works
EndoTherm is independently proven to save up to 15% on heating bills.