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National Energy Action website (link opens in a new window)National Energy Action

National Energy Action (NEA) aims to eradicate fuel poverty and campaigns for greater investment in energy efficiency.

More than five million households in the UK cannot afford to heat their homes to the standard required for good health and comfort. They are in fuel poverty, needing to spend more than 10% of their income on energy. Already more than 20,000 people die from the cold each winter and many more become ill and get into debt.

Fuel poverty affects people’s overall wellbeing. It can damage quality of life and health, as well as impose wider costs on the community.

NEA activities

NEA aims to tackle fuel poverty through:

  • research and analysis into the causes and extent of fuel poverty
  • providing advice and guidance to installers on good practice in delivering energy efficiency services to low-income householders
  • developing national qualifications and managing their implementation to improve the quality of energy advice
  • campaigning to ensure social and environmental objectives are brought together under national energy efficiency programmes
  • developing and managing projects which show innovative ways of tackling fuel poverty.

How a NEA project helped Margaret

NEA works with government, fuel utilities, housing providers, consumer groups and voluntary organisations to achieve its aims. It also often works directly with vulnerable communities. For example, take the story of Margaret, an 88 year-old woman supported through one of NEA’s projects. Margaret was very anxious about her monthly direct debit payment for her electricity, which had risen from £45 to £67 in the space of five months. Not able to afford the new payments requested from her supplier, she built up a debt.

Margaret was on an Economy 7 tariff, which meant that she paid less for the energy she used through the night, but a much higher rate for the energy she used through the day. Margaret’s day time use was double that of her night time use.

Margaret had never been in debt before. She was so frightened of not being able to pay it that she restricted using her heating. She no longer invited people around as she was embarrassed by the damp appearing on her walls. Margaret was in danger of falls as being cold makes the blood thicker and sitting still for long periods of time in the cold can make limbs stiff. She was also at greater risk of heart attacks and strokes. 

NEA worked with Margaret and her supplier. NEA made telephone calls on Margaret’s behalf as she was frustrated with not being able to hear and understand. After talking with the supplier it became apparent that the calculations used to estimate Margaret’s energy use were from the higher peak readings. Using the ‘off-peak’ readings meant the payment would be less.

NEA worked with Margaret to help her understand how to make the most of her energy use during ‘off-peak’ hours, helping her reduce her bills. A benefits check revealed Margaret was entitled to Pension Credit, and as such she received a Warm Home Discount rebate of £120 from her supplier in April 2012.

Further information

For more information, see the NEA website (link opens in a new window)

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