West Midlands has highest rates of fuel poverty in England

West Midlands has highest rates of fuel poverty in England

West Midlands has highest rates of fuel poverty in England – but free expert advice is here!

Help is at hand for those living in fuel poverty across the West Midlands, with energy experts Warmer Homes West Midlands locating themselves in the heart of the region.

The charity’s new base in Tyseley, Birmingham means that it can more easily operate where help is needed the most.

The government’s latest fuel poverty data which has just published, shows that the West Midlands has the highest rate of fuel poverty in England – with Birmingham having the highest proportion of fuel poor households.*

Warmer Homes West Midlands delivers expert advice to those struggling to heat their homes.

Paul Wiltshire, who heads up the organisation said: “The last 12 months have been unprecedented when it comes to energy bill rises and so many people are struggling to heat their homes; pay their bills and keep warm and well.”

“We’re here to support people right across the West Midlands. Our advice is tailored for lower income residents and those in fuel poverty; and here in the West Midlands we have the highest rates in England.”

“Our advice and support is delivered by friendly, qualified energy experts who run a freephone advice service. We also have a team of outreach workers who work closely with our local communities running drop-in sessions, roadshow advice events, and training of frontline workers for partner organisations.”

“And our experts also offer home-visits to make sure that we can tailor specific advice for those who need it most.”

Paul added: “We’re on a mission to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in cold and damp homes with free impartial personalised energy advice right across the region. Our person-centred approach means we can make a big difference even when things look bleak.”

The charity can help with:

  • Energy efficiency advice to to reduce bills
  • Grants and funding for energy efficiency measures
  • Grants for broken heating systems
  • Help with fuel bills and energy debt
  • Money mentoring
  • Billing issues with your supplier


Call us for free on 0800 988 2881

Don’t worry alone

Notes to editors

*The government data can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/sub-regional-fuel-poverty-2023-2021-data/sub-regional-fuel-poverty-in-england-2023-2021-data


Warmer Homes West Midlands is a project run by of Act on Energy – a leading energy advice charity for 25 years based in Warwickshire.

Warmer Homes West Midlands has already supported more than 10,000 vulnerable households across the region in its first two years of operation. A further two years of funding was announced last October; funding awarded  by Energy Savings Trust.

For further information please contact judy@actonenergy.org.uk

COP26-world leaders gather in Glasgow

COP26-world leaders gather in Glasgow

Recently you may have been seeing more and more in the news and online about COP26 – but what is it? And why is it so important? This piece will help breakdown the origins, goals, and significance of COP26 and help you get up to date with one of the most significant events in the global calendar this year.

What is COP26? 

COP stands for Conference of the Parties, and this year will be the 26th COP to go ahead since the first held in Berlin, 1995. The Parties which take part in the conference are the 197 countries which have ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which came into force in 1994. The ultimate objective of the Convention is to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at a level which will not damage the climate or environment. Every year the Parties meet to review the implementation of previously agreed actions of the Convention and to look at the progress that has been made towards reaching its ultimate objective.

The key goals to be focused on at COP26 includes securing global net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and keeping the goal of a maximum of 1.5 degrees of global warming within reach; working to protect communities and natural habitats through empowering and encouraging affected countries to take action and finally, mobilizing finance from developed countries to meet the previously agreed target of raising $100bn a year in climate finance.



The Conference of the Parties is held every year, apart from in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year the Conference will begin on the 31st of October with the opening of negotiations and ends on the 12th of November with the closure of negotiations. Each day the delegates will discuss topics from energy to gender and transport to nature. View the full programme for COP26 here, and view events scheduled for the run up to COP26 here.



The Conference of the Parties is usually held in Bonn, Germany, unless one of the Parties offers to host the event. COP26 will be held in Glasgow this year, at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC). The facilities will be carbon neutral and the Conference will have sustainability at its core, ensuring the use of responsible resources and supply chain, as well as actively managing potential impacts on the environment and local communities.



But why is this Conference so important? There are two main reasons why COP26 will be such as significant Conference. Firstly, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, governments are faced with a unique opportunity to rebuild their economies in more sustainable and environmentally friendly ways. As well as this, the global pandemic demonstrated how essential it is for nations to cooperate and work together on world issues and many are hoping this realisation will extend to the climate change crisis.

Secondly, COP26 is the first chance for nations to review the commitments they made back in 2015 as part of the landmark Paris Agreement, the first legally binding global climate change agreement. This Conference is being viewed as the summit to push for nations to commit to more significant targets as well as to commit to more concrete plans to reach what was agreed upon within the Paris Agreement.

To find out more about COP26 visit: www.ukcop26.org

Simple tips to reduce your energy consumption at home

Simple tips to reduce your energy consumption at home

The sun is shining and summer is in full swing! Many of us will be enjoying a barbeque with a couple of close friends and family at this time of year. Cooking and entertaining means consuming energy; but follow some simple tips and you can reduce your energy consumption and save you a money at the same time.

It’s always good to not overcook your food too much when using bottled gas heating for your barbeque. This can result in excess charring which is bad for you and will mean more regular bottle replacements.

Grabbing an ice cream from the freezer is a guilty pleasure for most of us, but do check that your freezer isn’t too full or frosting up. If your freezer temperature is set too low and is frequently frosting and icing up, it will be having to work a lot harder and will be costing you money, so do check your temperature settings and defrost your freezer thoroughly when necessary.

Washing dishes and glasses in a bowl when you clean up rather than constantly running water in the sink can save lots of water and heat from your hot water boiler. If you like the convenience of a dishwasher, then do make sure that it is filled right up and not put on with a half load. This way you get twice as much cleaning using the same amount of energy! 

Turning light switch off to save energy

The summer means long bright days – Remember to switch off your lights if don’t need them on and when your next lightbulb goes, try and make sure you replace it with an energy efficient replacement that is rated 7 watts or less and notice the reductions in your energy bills. If you have lots of electronic items on standby and don’t use them regularly then switch them off at the mains.

Turning TV off to save energy

It’s a long summer of sport…..football, tennis and of course the Olympics are all being played out on our TV’s. Whether you’re sitting back and relaxing, or fervently supporting your national team, do make sure you allow yourself a little natural ventilation by opening your windows. If you’ve recently taken your clothes  out of the washing machine then grab a clothes airer and dry outside, reducing the build-up of moisture and the potential for damp in your home. During a sporting break, grab yourself a hot drink but remember only fill your kettle just enough for what you need otherwise you’ll be paying over the odds.

Showering less to save energy

Rushing around in the morning doing the school run or getting into work, getting stressed as time is running away . By cutting the time you spend in the shower by just a minute or two each day you can create more time for yourself and lighten the load on your finances.

12 Tips To Reduce Overall Energy Consumption

12 Tips To Reduce Overall Energy Consumption

Reducing energy consumption little by little can save you a lot of money each and every year.

There are many tips and tricks that homeowners can use to conserve energy expenditure.

When in the kitchen…

  • Boil the water using the kettle or by covering the pan with a lid – the water will boil faster, saving less time and energy.
  • You can turn the heat off earlier when boiling an egg and let the residual heat finish cooking the egg.
  • Plan ahead when thinking about cooking something that is frozen – give the frozen food enough time to defrost, otherwise you will have to consume energy using a microwave or an oven.
  • Warm the kitchen area with residual heat from the oven – once you have used the oven for cooking, you can keep the oven door oven to provide extra heat in the kitchen (be considerate of the pets and children!).
  • Have your fridge placed away from a heat source or direct sunlight and don’t keep your fridge colder that it would typically need to be. As a point of reference, your fridge should be set at 3°C, whilst your freezer should be set at -18°C
  • Remember to also defrost both the fridge and freezer quite regularly, as the more ice will build up, the harder the fridge and freezer will have to work, thus consuming more energy.
Home Energy Smart meter in the kitchen measuring temperature

Energy saving habits throughout your home

  • After washing clothes and other textiles, using natural outdoor drying methods can also save money and electricity on buying driers, using the washing machine to dry or relying on radiator heat.
  • Another great way to conserve energy is to turn down your thermostat. With only one degree lower can save you around £80 per year.
  • Take more showers and less baths. According to the Energy Saving Trust, if everyone in a family of 4 swapped one bath a week for a 5-minute shower, they’d would reduce electricity and gas costs by £20 per year.
  • Spend less time in the shower. With just one minute less under the shower each day could shave £7 per year off your bills3. In a 4 person household, that’s £28 per year.
  • If you have a garage, ensure doors are closed and insulated the entire time.
  • Keep curtains and blinds open during the day, to let in the warmth of the sun. Then close them at night, to keep the heat in and the cold out.

Be in control of your heating to conserve energy

Unknown to most, nearly two-thirds of the energy used in UK homes goes on heating – which accounts for half of our bills. By adding water and heating together, it rises to two-thirds of our average costs.

Many households, for example, will run their heating systems not taking into account of each room’s temperature requirements. By using your heating contols efficiently, you could potentially save a lot of money. We tend to think of our heating bills in terms of fuel costs – but what we’re really paying for is heat loss.

The lower the heat loss, the lower the energy use. In this aspect insulation and other heating saving methods, could be considered.

How to be more Energy Efficient

How to be more Energy Efficient

It is very likely that your home may be losing heat and energy without you noticing.

Buildings typically lose heat through windows, floor gaps, roofs and walls, as heat energy is transferred through them by conduction. Cold air for instance, usually enters the house through the gaps, doorways and windows, produce convection currents and push the heat towards the roof tiles and windows.

An general estimate of over 25% from the heat produced by your boiler will most likely escape through the roof at fast rates, without the opportunity to settle and warm the property as it would be expected to.

Furthermore, over 35% of the heat will escape through walls and gaps, in and around windows and doors, and nearly 10% of heat will disappear through the floor.

Altogether, the roof, walls, windows, doors and the floor are known as the thermal envelope.

If you can slow this movement of heat from inside the house, through the thermal envelope, to the external environment, you can significantly reduce your energy costs.


Saving on Heat Expenses by reducing Heat Loss

If heat loss can be reduced, your consumption of fuel will also decrease, resulting in savings for your household.

This is also helpful from an environmental perspective, as there will be less carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, therefore supporting the reduction of greenhouse gases associated with climate change.

There are various ways to reduce heat loss and save energy:

Man insulating a wall within a home.

The most simplistic methods can involve using fitting carpets, curtains and draught excluders. Fitting reflective foil within, or on the walls, can also be a cost-effective and very useful method.

Heat loss through walls can be reduced by double glazing or insulated glazing – windows with two panes of glass that help minimising heat release as well as serve with outside noise reduction.

Heat Loss through walls can be reduced using cavity wall insulation – and insulating material which is placed into the gaps between the brick and inside wall. This will reduce convection on the outside of the home.

Loft insulation in the roof space is considered the best approach for energy efficiency in the home – being really cheap, easy to do and the payback can be reached within two years.

Walls typically come in two forms – solid and cavity walls.

Properties built prior to 1930 will generally have solid walls, whilst some houses built after this period are likely to have some form of cavity in the walls. Cavity walls are very easy to insulate – they can be injected with insulating material, which slows the movement of heat across it. This is cheap and well worth doing, again with a relatively quick payback – however a professional will need to install this for you.

Utilities bill

Good quality insulating will help conserve heat energy within the building and release less energy into the environment, causing less pollution.

Homeowners that want to aim for minimal heat consumption may want to opt for insulation, double glazing windows and covering gaps (around doors or other areas) in order to save money in medium to long term whilst better protecting the environment.

What is Fuel Poverty and how can it be alleviated?

What is Fuel Poverty and how can it be alleviated?

Although fuel poverty is defined and measured slightly differently across the UK, it is typically associated with families from the lower economic spectrum that are financially challenged by the utilities costs that are expended on warming the home.

In England, families that find themselves with residual incomes below the poverty threshold after covering the fuel expenses, or, experience fuel costs that are above the national median level, are considered to suffer from fuel poverty, according to the Low-Income High Cost (LIHC) metric.

In Scotland, households that experience fuel poverty are those whose utilities costs are above 10% than the households adjusted income. For households receiving social benefits and find themselves without enough financial resources to maintain an “acceptable standard of living” after covering the fuel expenses, are also considered to be experiencing fuel poverty.

Similar criteria are present also in Wales, where the 10% rules also apply but moreover, when families spend more than 20% of their household income on fuelling their home, they are classified as being in severe fuel poverty.

Seniors arguing over electricity bill.

Risks and Main Contributing Factors

There are various factors contribute to fuel poverty, some that involve the individual or household, whilst some relate to the house or property itself. Risk factors associated with individual households can involve things such as: low income, unemployment, high fuel costs, fuel payment methods, young age (16-25), senior age (65+) and individuals with medical conditions.

Property related risk factors could be the age, size and state of repair of the property. The quality and amount of insulation in the property. The properties construction type and the efficiency of it’s heating system as well as type of tenure can also have a significant impact on fuel poverty in the household.

Electricity Bill numbers

Statistics & Demographics

In 2018, England reported that 2.4 million (10.3%) of its households are classified as fuel poor, whilst Scotland and Wales identified 619,000 and 155,000 households, respectively, that experience fuel poverty. In the West Midlands alone, households classified as fuel poor are well in excess of 300,000.

Furthermore, the current pandemic is likely to have increased these figures further across the country.

Typical Characteristics of Fuel Poverty


What you may hear:

  • Home is usually too cold/ draughty.
  • The householders have respiratory problems.
  • The fuel bills are too high.
  • They are getting into fuel debt.
  • The householders stay in bed to keep warm.
  • The householder/s may wish to stay in hospital because it is more comfortable.
  • They have moved over to a prepayment meter to avoid incurring debt.


What you may feel:

  • Cold.
  • Large differences in temperatures between rooms.
  • Your hands might be cold to the touch.
  • You might smell Damp.
  • Sense of gloom and a depressed atmosphere.


What you may see:

  • Children constantly have runny noses, rashes, ear infections, conjunctivitis.
  • Children often off school.
  • Children are emotional/ tired.
  • Mould stains on walls or curtains.
  • Peeling wallpaper or paint.
  • Ventilation points blocked.
  • Householder wearing too much clothing.


What you may notice about the heating:

  • Portable bottled gas heaters.
  • Partial or no fixed heating system.
  • Heating controls absent / not working / switchedoff.
  • Visual evidence that heating appliances are not in use.
Senior at risk due to fuel poverty.

Health Implications

Fuel poverty can have a diverse set of health implications depending on either household temperature or the cleanliness of the household.

Cold Weather Plan for England have suggested that low indoor temperature present a range of health-related risks caused by fuel poverty such as: heart attacks/strokes, respiratory disease, influenza, worsening of existing health conditions or slower recoveries, falls/injuries, hypothermia, development of mental health illnesses, carbon monoxide poisoning, poorer nutrition.

To avoid such risks, homes should be kept at a temperature of 18*C-24*C (64*F-75*F). Home temperatures that drop below 16*C (61*F) present diminished resistance to respiratory infections. When temperatures are below 12*C (54*F) they affect body temperatures and increase blood pressure and viscosity, whereas when homes are warmed at bellow 5*C (41*F), a significant risk of hypothermia is present.

In terms of damp and mould in the household, they can enhance the risk of respiratory infections, runny nose, itchy eyes, cough, rhinitis, as well as reducing the resistance to bacteria and viruses.


Although there are various factors that contribute to fuel poverty, the three main causes that would also require the most attention are the high costs of fuel, low income, but also poor energy efficiency. It is the combination of these factors that place various householders in difficult conditions and lead to physical and mental health problems.

Potential Solutions

In an attempt to understand and help overcome factors that can cause fuel poverty, a series of solutions and ideas have been initialised by the British Government, as well as other (non-profit) organisations, such as Warmer Homes West Midlands.

Several of these solutions are listed below: