Home / Blogs / Warm as toast

Warm as toast

Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind,
As man’s ingratitude.

I was sitting in my toasty warm living room yesterday, looking out at the ‘snow drifts’ in the garden (aka ‘a light dusting’ – I live in Kent, where we call four flakes of snow a blizzard), when the doorbell rang and it was the man from npower (other energy companies are available), asking for my meter reading.

So, off he trotted to peer at the meters and off I trotted to peer over his shoulder because, well, I’m just curious about stuff like that.

I was pleasantly surprised – there wasn’t the huge jump from the last reading that I had expected. Now, I know full well that that is down largely to the fact that we have had unseasonably warm weather since September. But it’s not just that, since the chap himself said: “oh you’ve got the heating on, it’s so nice and warm in here. Not like the last house I went to. That was like an icebox.”

“Actually,” I replied, “I haven’t. It went off about three hours ago.” To which he replied: “Well, we won’t be needing to give you any free insulation then.”

It made me think of an article on the BBC website a couple of weeks ago which compared the lives of two pensioners.

The full article is here, but in essence, it’s about the fact that one man has had his house properly insulated and one hasn’t and that this situation is indicative of the way that insulation as a way of reducing energy bills is the elephant in the room when it comes to discussing the UK’s higher-than-our-European-neighbours energy bills. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35414074

John Flynn from Hartlepool is 72 and his monthly energy bill for his solid walled, north-facing end-terraced house is £180. Les Fawcett, on the other hand, from nearby Middlesbrough is 76 and his bills are just £45 a month. Both are on pensions, but Mr Fawcett had his house insulated free under one or other of the government schemes, and Mr Flynn didn’t as there was no money left in the kitty.

The government says it’s committed to combating fuel poverty and climate change, and that it aims to upgrade well over 200,000 homes per year. That simply isn’t enough.

It’s not enough to allow us to meet our climate change targets and it’s not enough to reduce fuel poverty sufficiently.

If you’ll excuse the mixed metaphors, I know I’m preaching to the choir here and it’s a drum I’ve been banging for ages, but this issue isn’t going to go away and this Government – and the next- need to wake -up and smell the coffee on this. For some of its citizens, it’s that coffee that’s the only thing keeping them warm.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

Check Also

Fuelling our future

If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow …