Can smart homes help tackle fuel poverty?

Fuel Poverty Action campaigner speaksAccording to Fuel Poverty Action, more than 10,000 people died from the impacts of fuel poverty in 2012/2013. Millions more struggled to pay their bills, top up their prepayment meters, and were bullied by energy companies because they owed them money they couldn’t pay.

Why are so many people struggling to heat their homes?  Largely because they’re so poorly insulated.  According to UK Government statics, a shockingly tiny 5% of Britain’s 2.3 million fuel poor homes meet a basic C grade of energy efficiency.  Homes that only achieve an F or G rating can be spending £1000 a year more on energy!

The stumbling block is that insulating some homes can be very expensive. Insulating solid walls, which are common in homes built before 1919, can cost up to to £25,000, according to the Energy Savings Trust.  For many people, especially those in fuel poverty, that’s a significant investment.

Affordable finance is absolutely crucial. In theory that’s where the Green Deal should help, yet it’s still not working.  So far only 3,239 households have signed up for Green Deal Finance.

In the meantime, smart thermostats could offer immediate savings for the worst affected.  The savings are greatest in old, poorly insulated homes where all or part of the home is often empty.  Zoned systems such as Heat Genius allow control over each room individually, allowing energy savings whenever any room is unoccupied.

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