The health implications of living in a cold home can be very serious.
University College London's Institute of Health Equity and Public Health England report that children growing up in poorly heated conditions are twice as likely to suffer from a variety of respiratory problems as other children, and that the UK's rate of excess winter deaths (higher mortality rates in winter months than the rest of the year) is higher than several European countries that experience much colder winters.
Fuel poverty can be tackled in several ways; boosting household income, reducing energy prices or improving the thermal performance of homes.
Big London Energy Switch
The Big London Energy Switch (BLES) aims to help London's residents secure a better deal and save money by making the most of the power that they have when they group together as consumers.
The scheme works by residents registering for BLES auctions and energy companies then bidding to provide them with the best deals. Residents can then decide whether or not to take up the offer.
If you're interested and live in London, you should find the Big London Energy Switch page on your local council's website to register and find the date of the next auction.
We supported the development of the scheme and commissioned the research required to secure funding from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
The Energy Saving Trust carried out an evaluation of the first phase of the project in October 2013. This evaluation analysed the results from the first auction held in April 2013 and borough engagement and post-switch activities.
A second evaluation report (including appendices one and two) analysed and compared the results of the first three auctions (held in April, June and November 2013).
A parliamentary briefing for the House of Commons Energy Debate, produced in February 2014, drew on the findings from the BLES and raised concerns about the lack of competition in the energy market, in particular in the pre-paid tariff market.
Ensuring a Better Deal for Energy Consumers
In 2013, we responded to the government's consultation on measures to help consumers get the cheapest energy tariffs.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change's (DECC's) “Ensuring a better deal for energy consumers” discussion document proposed measures primarily to ensure consumers get the cheapest tariff offered by their supplier that meets their preferences.
The measures also aimed to enhance consumer protection and enable consumers to compare different suppliers' tariffs and to switch more easily. The government's proposals were supposed to work in tandem with those being implemented by the energy regulator (Ofgem) as part of its Retail Market Review.
In our response, we broadly welcomed the government's proposals but suggested that more needed to be done to help vulnerable residents and to improve energy efficiency in London, including by ensuring that London receives its fair share of ECO funding.
The government published its response to the consultation setting out its conclusions following the responses received.