Energy Efficiency of the Housing Stock
The fuel poor are definitely paying more than they should have to for fuel and are getting somewhat less income than they are entitled to. Both of these would be useful improvements and would offset, at least partially, some of their fuel poverty. Both incomes and fuel prices relate to the household’s weekly income and expenditure and its ability to pay recurring running costs. The role of energy efficiency – whether in the boiler or as an attribute of the building fabric – and what people are actually paying for their energy services is the third of the main influences on fuel poverty. It has a different impact than incomes and fuel prices because of the role of investment in equipment: the boiler, the light bulb, the refrigerator and the loft insulation all require capital expenditure. This is sometimes a considerable sum of money; but it is a one-off or rare cost and the greater energy efficiency of this new piece of equipment means that the recurring energy costs are lower. Improved energy efficiency is the permanent non-reversible component of reducing fuel poverty. The fuel poor, like anyone in poverty, rarely have access to sources of capital, so this expenditure has to be funded through some other medium. The energy efficiency of the homes of the fuel poor indicate, in a very real sense, the extent to which society is concerned about fuel poverty.