Study to alleviate fuel poverty

Study to alleviate fuel poverty

Friday 24 June 2011

A study will collect highly detailed analysis of the energy generation and consumption of two groups of houses fitted with renewable energy technologies. This information will then be used to determine the impact of renewable energy options on fuel poverty and the ability of low income households to have satisfactory heating.

This two-year research project will be conducted by Dr Fin O'Flaherty from Sheffield Hallam University and Dr James Pinder of consultancy firm Positive Sum Ltd. It is funded by the Eaga Partnership Charitable Trust (eCT).

The research team have recently completed an evaluation of the Summerfield Eco Neighbourhood project in Birmingham, where more than 300 homes had been retrofitted with solar thermal hot water systems.

Dr O'Flaherty said: 'Understanding how low-income households can benefit from clean energy is essential if we're to meet the Government's target of cutting the UK's C02 emissions by 80 per cent. It's really about asking how we can make going green socially inclusive.

'Binding targets to cut C02 emissions will encourage all of us to adopt more low carbon lifestyles. Key to this is rethinking how we use energy in our homes, but there is a risk that vulnerable households get left behind as the rest of us make the switch.

'This research will investigate how technologies like solar thermal hot water and heat pumps can make energy more sustainable and affordable for consumers.'

Government advisory body, the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group (FPAG), has recently warned that rising unemployment and higher energy prices are pushing more people into fuel poverty - where they are spending more than ten per cent of their household income on heating.

Dr Naomi Brown, Trust Manager for the eCT, said, 'At a time when the number of fuel poor households is rising and has now reached 4 million in England, it is essential that we gain better understanding of how renewable technologies can help alleviate fuel poverty.

'This research will provide a better understanding of which forms of renewables represent the best value for money for alleviating fuel poverty, and we are very pleased to provide funding.'

The eCT gives grants to support research into the relief of fuel poverty and the promotion of energy among vulnerable consumers.

So far this year it has agreed funding in excess of £275,000 this year on a variety of research projects, including £97,000 on this renewable energy study.

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