As the days grow short, the evenings cold and winter heads our way it is distressing to hear that fuel poverty in the UK is worsening. Fuel poverty is defined as when 10% or more of the income is spent on gas and electricity. Recent research from the Department of Energy and Climate Change indicates that due to rising prices of domestic energy, an 80% increase between 2004 and 2008, the numbers of households in the UK falling into fuel poverty rose by just over 14% to 4 million in 2007. The majority of these households are considered “vulnerable”; those that contain the elderly, children or somebody who is disabled or has a long term illness. The numbers in fuel poverty are expected to rise. In 2009 DECC expects the number to rise to 4.6 million households in England alone.
As I write this the price of oil is over $80/bbl, the highest it’s been all year. As oil price rises everything produced with oil, which is virtually everything we use or consume in daily lie, will also increase in price. So at the same time that domestic energy is costing more and driving households into fuel poverty they will also be hit by rising food prices, rising transport prices, rising prices for consumer goods. Of course this is also hitting at a time when unemployment is high and spare cash is short. The UK is in the worst recession for over 50 years.
For some this may mean doing without luxury items like cars, ipods, and new clothes. For others it may entail doing more home cooking and less eating out. But for those in vulnerable households this situation can be life threatening. This is a time for communities to look after each other. If you can help someone in a vulnerable household to seal up some drafts, or arrange to get their house insulated under the various efforts offered by the government, please do so.
Government efforts are increasing. I especially like the new program to provide hard pressed families a whole house energy makeover. You can learn more about the next steps being taken by government go to the Department of Energy and Climate Change website.
What have you done today to lower your impact?
We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.
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