Fuel poverty occurs when more than 10% of household income is spent on energy costs and currently this is estimated to be the case for around 18% of homes in Northern Ireland, which is one of the highest rates in the UK.
There are a number of reasons a home can fall into fuel poverty and ways we can help our tenants:
Low Income - Those on lower incomes are more likely to pay proportionally more on energy costs. One way we can help is to encourage our tenants to 'Make the call' and have a benefits check carried out. This is being advertised again on our TVs at the minute with households able to make the call by phoning 0800 232 127. Our financial inclusion team may also be able to assist tenants who have financial concerns so please feel free to liaise with them or pass on any referrals.
Energy Costs – The amount paid for each unit of energy, and the way in which this is paid, will have an impact on household energy costs. The advice we would give is to check arrangements with existing suppliers and to consider switching suppliers. The Consumer Council has a helpful energy price comparison tool on their website at https://www.consumercouncil.org.uk/comparison_tool/begin and they also have other information on current energy prices (including heating oil) on their website. Our website also has information and advice, including an energy booklet for our tenants (the Energy Team also have hard copies of this booklet available).
Energy Efficiency – Homes which are less energy efficient are likely to have higher energy costs. We are continually seeking to improve our housing stock and have invested millions in recent years on our existing homes. Over 6,000 of our homes have Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and our average energy efficiency rating is ‘76’ (Band C), which is much higher than the Northern Ireland average of ‘60’.
Lifestyle/Behaviour – Households use energy in different ways and so considering ways we can reduce energy will also help to reduce energy costs. Further information is available in our tenants energy booklet and on our website. In Northern Ireland, households can also phone the NI Energy Advice line on 0800 14 22 865 for further support.