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UKIFDA urges chancellor to consider off grid communities

The UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association (UKIFDA) is supporting the Big Housewarming event taking place across the country on Wednesday 5 February.

As part of their support they have written to Chancellor Sajid Javid urging him to implement policies that support those living in fuel poverty in rural communities in the forthcoming budget.

The Big Housewarming event is the annual winter campaign run by National Energy Action (NEA) to raise awareness of fuel poverty and the importance of vulnerable people having access to warm homes.

Guy Pulham, chief executive of UKIFDA, said: “We have written to the Chancellor Sajid Javid and MPs in rural constituencies across the UK on the important issue of fuel poverty in rural homes, to urge them to remember the rural fuel poor in the upcoming Budget.

“We are urging the Government to implement policies that help the fuel poor but also enable Clean Growth Strategy targets to be met.

“We are only too aware of the need to cut carbon emissions and reduce the heating industry's carbon footprint, but to do so in a way that supports the more-than one million homes in rural England, Scotland and Wales, and almost 500,000 homes in Northern Ireland that are heated by oil.

“On average, modern condensing oil boilers are more than 90 per cent efficient and swapping from a standard oil boiler to one would cut costs and emissions – and may even take households out of fuel poverty. Furthermore, condensing boilers can cut CO2 emissions by 20 per cent and make a massive difference to the planet as well as to people's bank accounts.

“UKIFDA is committed to ensuring off-grid households can become greener without the need to spend a great deal of money upfront.

“Liquid fuel, more specifically a bio product, can be part of the solution to achieve the Government's decarbonisation targets. We believe the Government's proposals about large scale electrification through the use of heat pumps is not feasible due to high installation and running costs of installing heat pumps for off-grid homeowners, the requirement for additional National Grid generation, and infrastructure costs. Recognising the Government's targets on reducing fuel poverty, it is important any regulation around heat policy takes this into account.

“We can't stress enough that electrification through the widespread use of heat pumps is not the only conclusion, especially for vulnerable consumers who might be adversely impacted if they install solutions which reduce emissions and achieve carbon targets but lead to higher bills.

“There is an alternative solution and one that would support those living in fuel poverty rather than potentially worsen the situation for them - and that is switching to renewables like biofuels.

“We're urging the Government to listen to our lobbying and implement policies that help the fuel poor and enable it to achieve its carbon emissions target at the same time.”

Mr Pulham added: “Rural homeowners suffer from a lower level of support schemes but there is some good news for those using heating oil this winter as the latest report on Jan 31 2020 from Sutherland Table, a recognised independent source of comparative domestic heating prices, showed that to heat a three bedroomed home in the UK using an oil condensing boiler costs on average £1100.33 whereas to heat a home with air source heat pumps with a combination of radiators and underfloor heating is £1572.41 per annum and using an LPG condensing the boiler the annual average cost is £1673.83.

“Furthermore, Jan 2019 costs to households using oil for home heating in most regions are down by between 2.5 per cent and 9.5 per cent when compared to last January.

“Oil is still one of the cheapest forms of energy for off-grid consumers compared to electricity and LPG.

“The Big Housewarming event is such a great way of raising fuel poverty awareness and finding ways to support those living in fuel poverty - and to ensure the Government doesn't forget the rural fuel poor in the upcoming Budget.”

5 February 2020

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