Insulation saving 'could pay bills'
Millions of British households could save the equivalent of the cost of their gas bills from today until next winter if their homes were effectively insulated, a campaign group claims.
Effective and efficient heating and insulation could cut up to £653 - or a third - off the average annual energy bill, according to figures from the fuel poverty alliance Energy Bill Revolution.
It claims the £653 saving could be made by a family living in a "typical" badly-insulated family home, and is equivalent to the entire bill for heating and hot water for seven and a half months, from February 14 until October.
The group has branded February 14 'Burning Cash Day', or the day after which Britons "are effectively burning money to stay warm".
The UK is second only to Estonia among European nations for the number of people who are struggling to pay their energy bills, research by Energy Bill Revolution found.
The alliance, which includes Age UK, Barnardo's, Consumer Futures and National Energy Action, has previously told leaders investment in "super insulation" for the nation's homes is the only way to end the "scourge" of fuel poverty and is the best way to bring down energy bills.
It said "woeful" levels of insulation have led to Britain's homes falling "way behind" those of comparable European countries such as Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands.
The group has called on the Government to make energy-efficient homes an infrastructure priority to eliminate fuel poverty "once and for all".
Energy Bill Revolution director Ed Matthew said: "Burning Cash Day shows the colossal amount of money wasted by British households due to the appalling level of insulation of the UK housing stock.
"The Government needs to wake up and realise that this is a massive vote winner. A truly ambitious programme of insulation for Britain's homes would give millions of people a huge saving on their heating bill, eliminate fuel poverty at a stroke and give a fantastic boost to the building industry."
Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Sophie Neuburg said: "It's a national scandal that there are thousands of excess winter deaths every year due to cold, damp homes. The current weather conditions won't be making things any easier for families struggling to stay warm.
"The Government must commit to a large-scale energy efficiency programme to insulate every home in Britain.
"Energy efficiency is win-win. It's great for the economy, great for households and great for the environment. Politicians should be falling over themselves to make it happen."
The Energy Bill Revolution, which represents almost 200 of Britain's biggest businesses, unions and charities, is calling on the Government to pay for the scheme using carbon tax.
Federation of Master Builders chief executive Brian Berry said: "Improving the energy efficiency of our homes will not only slash heating bills for individuals and families, it will also give the construction industry a powerful shot in the arm.
"Small local builders were particularly badly hit by the economic downturn and although we are starting to see signs of a tentative economic recovery, it comes from a very low base.
"Small to medium enterprise builders are ideally placed to carry out energy efficiency improvements and government must make our existing homes its number one infrastructure investment priority to secure a sustained economic recovery."