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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
Fuel poverty affects people’s overall wellbeing. It can damage
quality of life and health, as well as impose wider costs on the
NEA aims to tackle fuel poverty through:
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.
For more information, see the NEA website
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