Upgrading static electric storage heaters could help to close a combined fuel poverty gap of £160 million, according to a new report by Glen Dimplex.

More than 3.2 million households in England and Scotland are fuel poor according to official statistics. Around 15% of these – almost 500,000 households – use electricity to heat their homes and are paying over the odds for their heating because of a legacy of ageing electric storage heaters and incorrect specification.

Despite this, Dimplex says government incentive schemes are failing to offer the funding needed to support heating system upgrades in electrically-heated homes with modern, smart appliances that can slash heating bills.

The average annual fuel poverty gap in England – the difference between a household’s typical energy bill and the value that their bill would need to be in order for that household to come out of fuel poverty – is £353.

Chris Stammers, Head of Insight for Glen Dimplex Heating & Ventilation, said: “Thousands of households are still paying over the odds unnecessarily for their heating bills, even though modern appliances could lift them out of fuel poverty by dramatically lowering running costs.

“Invariably the issue is the cost of installation – very few homeowners in fuel poverty can afford the upfront cost to install a new heating system, while private and social housing tenants have no choice but to use the heating system they have been given.

“Those with gas central heating systems have access to a number of funding programmes designed to facilitate heating upgrades to improve the energy efficiency of the property, but there is not currently enough support for electrically heated homes.

“For the majority of these properties, switching to gas is not an option. It is either not physically possible or not viable because of the huge costs involved.

“Instead, by extending funding support to electrically heated homes, we could facilitate hundreds of thousands of additional electric heating upgrades. We could replace the ageing storage heating systems and address those incorrect specifications which are contributing to a fuel poverty gap of around £160million. And we could improve daily life for millions of homeowners, private tenants and social housing residents across the UK.”