This is a guest post by Louise Broom of Verismart Heating.
The above is a picture of my little girl’s bedroom.
She is a very lucky girl. She is warm and safe. But life is not like this for everyone. In 2013 it was estimated that at least 1.5 million children were living in fuel poverty  It is a common misconception that fuel poverty only affects the elderly. In fact, it is believed to affect 4.5 million households in the UK, a figure which represents 17% of all homes  Most at risk are those living in privately rented accommodation, the unemployed and lone parents.3
Fuel poverty can be defined as being unable to keep your home adequately heated to the recommended temperature of 21 degrees in the living room and 18 degrees in all other occupied areas. It is measured by the Low Income High Costs (LIHC) indicator  and you can be classed as fuel poor if your fuel costs are above average and having paid this you are left with an income below the official poverty line.
A major cause of fuel poverty is poor energy efficiency of the home.
96% of fuel poor homes are poorly insulated and 21 million homes are rated below Band C on an energy performance certificate (EPC) 2 This is a problem that doesn’t just affect urban areas. It is often more acute in off gas grid, rural areas where electric heating is the only option. Many rural houses were built many years ago and often have low or no insulation, causing energy bills to be on average 27% higher1
The Government has pledged to make all homes reach Band C standard, within 15 years. However, endfuelpoverty.ork.uk claim that it would take 270 years to achieve this target at the current rate of improvement2. Phil Levermore1 states in The Guardian that our housing stock is the least energy efficient in Europe and that we should take advantage of energy prices being at an all time low to evaluate and improve housing stock. He further asserts this should be a national priority and would offer far greater benefits than HS2!
So if you find yourself struggling this winter, where can you go for independent advice that you can trust? Groundwork is a charity that runs a scheme to combat fuel poverty called Green Doctors. The Green Doctors go door to door offering energy saving advice, providing keep warm kits and installing equipment, as well as signposting people to further advice.
Kits that the Green Doctors issue include blankets, draught proofing and reflective radiator panels. In certain circumstances, the Green Doctors can provide a heating solution. VeriSmart Heating are delighted to be able to help Groundwork this winter, by donating electric radiators for emergency situations. We aim to continue to work closely with Groundwork, to provide warmth to those in most need of our help.
See how our Green Doctors are changing lives:
Where can you go for more help and information?
The Home Heat Helpline
National Energy Action
End Fuel Poverty
 Levermore P. (27th Oct 2015) The UK’s fuel poverty crisis can and must be fixed. The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/oct/27/fuel-poverty-crisis-fixed-insulation-energy-efficiency
 Department of Energy and Climate Change (May 2015) Annula fuel poverty statistics report. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/annual-fuel-poverty-statistics-report-2015
About this post
This post is one of a series exploring the challenges of living in, and potential solutions to, fuel poverty in the UK as part of Groundwork's Show Winter Who's Boss campaign. Find out more about our campaign to help people take control of their energy bills by visiting the Show Winter Who's Boss page.
About the author
Louise Broom is a former chartered physiotherapist. In 2015 Louise and her partner, Stewart Donnor set up VeriSmart Heating to provide affordable, reliable warmth to those who require an alternative to gas central heating.
To find out more about Verismart visit their Twitter page: @verismartheatin