Boiler prices contribute to fuel poverty

22nd May 2012

Ravenheat Managing Director Louis Pickersgill is concerned that high boiler prices are having a negative effect on fuel poverty cases in the UK. Worse, the fuel poverty figures released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) may be two years out of date.

The latest DECC figures relate to 2010, a year in which 4.75 million households were regarded as fuel poor. Since then prices for conventional fossil fuel based energy have risen even more which means that the fuel poverty figures are likely to be outdated and unreliable. This also means that the true effect of government schemes designed to address this issue, such as the Green Deal, is not likely to be known until at least 2014, if not later.

Part of the problem is high boiler prices. The DECC report reveals that only 32% of households have a condensing boiler. When you consider that these boilers are now mandatory as and when old boilers are due to be replaced, it means that more people are having old boilers repaired than being replaced.

“The latest figures are alarming as they point to an almost inevitable surge in the number of UK homes that cannot be heated affordably” says Pickersgill. “Fuel poverty is not just about heating bills – many of those households will also be unable to justify the expense of upgrading to a condensing boiler. As manufacturers we need to think about responsible pricing which is affordable in capital outlay terms and cuts payback periods significantly. This would give more households access to boilers and other established energy-saving technologies that will significantly cut their bills. Prices need to be aligned with the cost of ongoing repairs in order to convince more people to opt for a replacement instead.”

Pickersgill believes, on the basis of DECC figures, that 3.23 million fuel poor households could do with having a condensing boiler installed. He claims that we should act on this now given the uncertainties surrounding how quickly the Green Deal and ECO will be implemented.

According to uSwitch almost a quarter of UK households may be spending more than 10% of their income on energy bills with some of the worst affected being single parents and pensioners. Further research has found that energy bills are increasing seven times faster than household income. Eight years ago the average energy bill was £522 but now it is £1,252 meaning that domestic energy is now the top household worry alongside food and mortgages.