The hidden cost of fuel poverty in summer

The daily struggle of fuel poverty doesn’t end when the cold weather does. It’s a year-round crisis that affects millions of people across the UK.

Despite milder weather bringing some respite from the cost of heating bills, it can bring its own challenges meaning some people are still suffering in their own homes. Fuel poverty remains a significant issue during the warmer months for people reliant on daily medical equipment to families struggling with the additional costs of the school holidays, summer can bring little relief.

Millions of people still need vital advice and support. Help us be there for those who need us.

How does fuel poverty impact households in summer?

High energy costs

Despite the price cap falling 7% on 1 July, energy prices are still far higher than pre-crisis levels, with a typical household paying around £300 a year more than in October 2021. Summer can bring additional spending on more frequent shower use, cooling systems and fans, as well as an increase in electricity consumption during the school holidays. These additional costs can contribute to mounting debt and the need for homes to be forced to prioritise between power, food, and other essentials.

Inadequate housing

Homes with poor insulation and inefficient heating systems require more energy to maintain a comfortable temperature, regardless of the season. This inefficiency is not limited to winter—keeping homes cool in the summer also demands significant energy, especially during heatwaves.

Safe room temperatures

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends maintaining a home between 18oC and 21oC. Consistent exposure to inadequate temperatures can have severe health consequences. Cold homes are linked to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, while overheated homes during summer can exacerbate conditions, such as asthma and heat stress. For those with disabilities, the impact is even more acute, as they may be more vulnerable to temperature extremes and less able to mitigate them.

Mental health

The stress and anxiety associated with high energy bills and the struggle to maintain a comfortable living environment can take a toll on mental health. The constant worry about finances and the physical discomfort of living in an unsafe or unhealthy home can lead to depression and anxiety.

Medical equipment

Over half (55%) of disabled adults have worried about their energy bills. With more than 900,000 households with a person with a disability living in fuel poverty, people with disabilities are disproportionately affected by fuel poverty for several reasons.

Increased energy needs

Many people living with disabilities have higher energy requirements due to medical equipment, greater time spent at home, and the need for a consistently comfortable temperature. The cost of running at-home medical equipment can add extra strain to homes. An at-home oxygen concentrator has an average cost of £65 per month, a dialysis machine is £27 per month, and a ventilator can be £35 per month. The financial impact of a medical condition can be devastating – from lost income to increased costs caused by a condition, in the aftermath of a terminal diagnosis many people face drastically changed financial circumstances and an increased risk of financial insecurity.

Lower incomes

People with disabilities often face barriers to employment, resulting in lower household incomes and making it harder to afford high energy costs. Over 4.1 million households with a disabled person spend over £1,500 a year on energy. Of these, 790,000 spend over £2,500 a year on energy. The average UK household spends around £1,200 a year.

Additional household expenses

Summer holidays can increase the energy consumption for a household with children spending more time at home and increased time on electronic devices. Parents are also often faced with additional costs for childcare, summer activities, and higher food bills to cover additional meals that would usually be provided under free school meal schemes or breakfast clubs. This can add even more pressure on already over-stretched incomes, leaving many struggling to pay their energy bills.

How you can help

We believe that everyone should live in a warm, safe and healthy home all year round. We work tirelessly to make sure this can be a reality for the millions of people facing fuel poverty across the country. However, this work wouldn’t be possible without the help of our supporters.

By supporting National Energy Action this summer, we can continue to provide practical and life-changing support to those who need it most.

Access to support

If you are concerned about your energy bills, there are services available to help. Please contact National Energy Action, or one of these organisations below, to find out what support is available to you.

Join us in the fight against fuel poverty. Together, we can ensure that everyone has a warm, safe, and healthy home all year round.