The energy efficiency or SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) rating is a measure of the overall efficiency of a home. The higher the rating the more energy efficient the home is and the lower the fuel bills will be.
Energy-efficient homes should have a SAP rating of C or above, i.e. more than 69 out of 100. Homes that have a SAP rating which is less than this may also be also responsible for high CO2 emissions.
Many homes with low SAP ratings house families that are in fuel poverty. According to Wiltshire Council's Private Sector House Condition Survey, 2010, 34% of houses in the Marlborough area are ‘non-decent’, based on the known ages of the buildings. They suggest that 985 dwellings (16%) have inadequate thermal comfort (adequate heating and effective insulation) 743 (12%) are excessively cold (energy rating of <55; too cold for vulnerable people, i.e. those over 65 years, young children, the sick and disabled) 528 (10%) are causing vulnerability to fuel poverty and 364 (7%) are housing families that are already in fuel poverty.
What is Fuel Poverty?
Households that spend more than 10% of their income on heating their homes are said to be in fuel poverty. According to the Hills Report: Getting the Measure of Fuel Poverty there are a number of other key indicators of fuel poverty, see Table below:
|Hills Indicator||Problem Caused||Examples in Marlborough Area|
|Use pre-payment meters||Charged a higher tariff||Some rented properties with private/social landlords|
|Use heating oil||Expensive, high carbon-emitting fuel||Off-gas mains dwellings, outside the town|
|Use night-storage heaters & Economy 7 electricity; use portable heaters||Inflexible system that is expensive to run and cools down by 5pm. Many households use portable electric heaters instead. Economy 7 day-time tariff is higher than normal tariff||Most Aster/Sarsen properties, both on and off the gas mains|
|Low household income (< £12,000 pa); receiving means tested benefits||In UK, every 1% rise in energy prices forces another 40,000 households into fuel poverty||19% of people in the Marlborough Area are over 65 years; evidence of some low income/unemployed families living in Isbury roads, Rabley Wood and St Margarets estates|
|Solid exterior walls; house built before 1945||No cavity to insulate, low SAP rating (< C) cost of solid wall insulation is very high||Houses in St Johns Close, Kennet Place, surrounding villages|
|Converted flat||Poorly insulated, low SAP rating (< C)||Flats above the shops along Marlborough High Street|
Most of the 911 social housing properties in the Marlborough Area have night storage heaters and are thus tied to the Economy 7 tariff. Tenants that we have spoken to say that these heaters are inflexible because they consume lower price electricity the night before, but cool down by the following evening, when most heat is needed. Consequently many tenants use alternative forms of heating to heat one or more rooms – mainly portable electric heaters, but also coal fires and in one case an open electric dryer! The portable electric heaters use electricity during peak hours when Economy 7 electricity is charged at a higher rate: currently 14.99p per kWh, compared to 11.57p per kWh (Eon). Tenants find it difficult to switch to an alternative supplier in order to get a lower tariff because they are obliged to retain the night storage heaters. Some of the tenants also use key meters which attract an even higher tariff.
Marlborough social housing tenant who can only afford to heat one room
How can we reduce fuel poverty in the Marlborough Area?
According to a Consumer Focus Report the SAP Rating of energy inefficient homes can be increased to B by the following:
Level 1: (low cost) compact fluorescent lamps, draught proofing, loft and cavity wall insulation are installed wherever they are applicable in dwellings that have a SAP rating below 81/EPC B.
Level 2: (high cost) all of the low cost measures in Level 1 are installed followed by:
- replacing old gas and oil boilers with condensing ones (either combi or normal, corresponding to the existing type)
- replacing oil heating with biomass boilers, ground or air source heat pumps, in off gas-grid areas
- installing internal insulating lining into solid or non-traditional wall dwellings
- installing solar water heating where the roof is appropriate
- installing double glazing where necessary.
A complete retrofit (Levels 1 & 2) could cost up to £10,000 per dwelling and would cut both fuel bills and carbon emissions by at least 50%. According to Professor Hills this could not be supported by families in fuel poverty under the terms of the Green Deal. This is because fuel poor families ‘under-consume energy’ in order to save money, therefore there would be little or no scope for the financial savings necessary to comply with the ‘Golden Rule’. Read more, here...
However, the government currently generates enough carbon tax revenue from the European Emissions Trading Scheme and the Carbon Floor Price, to treat 600,000 fuel poor households every year, providing each of them with a grant worth, on average, £6,500 to install energy efficiency measures.
Please join UK charities and M.P.s that are calling for the goverment to use carbon tax funds to reduce fuel poverty, by signing the petition, here...