(PRWEB) August 29, 2008
Energy Expert Ed Walters of Easy Energy Saving comments on the potential social consequences of yet another energy price hike. Npower today have announced increases in gas prices of 26% and electricity prices of 14%, effective immediately. With soaring global energy costs the most vulnerable people are increasingly being forced to choose between eating and heating. Both are essential to stay alive particularly as winter is fast approaching.
With average annual energy bills now well over £1,000 and continuing to rise, fuel poverty is a growing concern particularly for the most vulnerable. This trend is not only being seen in the UK but across the world. In the U.S. average energy bills are now more than $2,000 a year forcing more and more people into fuel poverty.
Fuel poverty in the UK is officially defined as a household spending at least 10 per cent of its annual income on energy costs. The government estimates up to 5 million people could be pushed into fuel poverty this year, three times the number in 2005. The charity Save the Children has warned more like 20 per cent of UK families can now not afford to heat their home properly. For these people, particularly those who do not receive a fuel allowance, cutting down to only two meals a day or sitting in the dark at night could be the only solutions to stay alive.
For the severely disabled fuel poverty could mean death. Those with disabilities such as spinal injuries where they are unable regulate their body temperature need heating to stay alive. If money runs out and they are unable to afford heating their body temperature could drop and they could die. For others with disabilities such arthritis without heating they could suffer severe attacks and agonizing pain.
Elderly people over the age of 65 in the UK are more fortunate receiving between £200 and £400 a year specifically for their winter fuel bills. Whereas disability allowance is assessed on care needs and mobility and doesn't take into account heating requirements.
Home energy consumption can be cut significantly by 'tweaking' existing heating and hot water systems and with some simple 'low-cost' DIY improvements. Lowering your thermostat by just 1°C could save you around £50 to £60 ($100 to $120) a year. Loft insulation could save £150 to £200 ($300 to $400) a year. For those in fuel poverty 'no-cost' solutions to energy saving could be an option but for the disabled or elderly even 'low-cost' solutions are likely to be unaffordable. For further advice visit http://www.easyenergysaving.com .
Energy companies can offer some help to their most vulnerable customers but this depends on the energy supplier and location. Support includes reduced tariffs or extra help to make customers homes more energy efficient.
According to the U.S. government global energy demand is set to rise 54 per cent by 2025 so more uncapped energy price rises can be expected over the next decade or so. Reducing energy consumption or choosing between heating and eating could be the only realistic solutions people can implement to soften the impact of future energy price increases.
For additional information on energy saving, reducing your energy bills and for a complimentary e-course on the subject visit http://www.easyenergysaving.com .
Ed Walters, Energy Saving Expert
Easy Energy Saving