Southampton City Council is supporting National Fuel Poverty Day by restating its commitment to ongoing energy saving project works in the city. National Energy Action’s Fuel Poverty Awareness Day (on 23rd February) is recognised nationally to highlight the problems faced by those struggling to keep warm in their homes and the work being undertaken to tackle the issue.
In Southampton, an estimated 10,000 households are in fuel poverty, which is 10% of all households in the city. Southampton City Council’s projects have resulted in bringing 1,200 homes out of fuel poverty in the last five years. One project in particular, the ECO Project, is transforming homes across the city by investing to make blocks of flats more energy-efficient to keep residents inside warmer and cosier.
Fuel poverty is caused by a combination of low household income, inefficient housing and high energy costs. It can affect the mental and physical health of those living in cold homes and have serious impacts on their quality of life.
Under the ECO project scheme certain properties throughout Southampton have and will benefit from a range of energy-saving improvements, including:
- External wall insulation (EWI) — designed to improve the thermal efficiency of the building, by wrapping them in 100mm of insulation, thus reducing the heat loss and saving energy to heat homes.
- Innovative new heating systems
- Double-glazed windows
- New roofing
- New radiators
Residents have reported a vast improvement. Before the works began, the estimated cost in 2009/10 for existing heating and hot water for council residents was between £12 and £17 per week, including the additional cost of approximately £10 per week for electric immersion heaters. Since the ECO project improvements began, feedback received from residents is that the average cost now for both heating and hot water combined is between £10 and £12 per week. ECO project work is planned to continue to be rolled out across the city.
Cllr Warwick Payne, Cabinet Member for Housing and Adult Care, said: “Fuel poverty affects many households in Southampton. Residents shouldn’t have to choose between paying their heating bill and other essentials. That is why the ECO Project is so important to help those council tenants who do struggle. Following the works, both communities and households will have an increased satisfaction about where they live, improving their wellbeing.”
As part of the council’s commitment to helping those in fuel poverty, later this year they will also be partnering with an energy supplier to launch their own brand of low-cost energy. It is hoped that this will also provide a platform for future investment in energy efficiency initiatives.