Oil heating industry trade associations have joined forces to support the government's newly unveiled fuel poverty plan for England.
The Federation of Petroleum Suppliers (FPS) and the Oil Firing Technican Association (OFTEC) said they welcomed the plan, which Mark Askew, chief executive of FPS said would help those living in fuel poverty in both gas-heated and off-grid homes as well.
Designed to highlight and enable the government to prioritise help for those living in fuel poverty in England, with the aim of making homes warmer through an investment in energy efficiency initiatives, this fuel poverty strategy is the first for 14 years.
Mr Askew continued: "The combination of low income together with the highest energy bills means many are struggling to keep their homes warm and are living in fuel poverty. Currently, there are at least 320,000 fuel poor houses in England that are rated below Band E for energy efficiency, which means it costs a lot more to keep these homes warm. The government's fuel poverty target is to ensure as many houses as possible achieve a minimum energy efficiency rating of Band C by 2030. At this level, it is far more affordable to maintain a warm and comfortable home, which is hugely important for health and wellbeing. The importance of an energy efficient, well insulated and heated home cannot be underestimated – which is why we're giving this strategy our full support."
Part of this new initiative is a £25 million fund to support low income off-grid households, which was announced by the government in the Autumn Statement 2014. The so-called Central Heating Fund has been created to help pay for the installation of a first-time central heating system, which would significantly boost the energy efficiency levels of a home.
The fund aims to improve the heating efficiency of up to 8,000 off-grid fuel poor homes.
"This is good news for those using oil heating systems in their homes, as funding will soon be available if any individuals are finding it difficult to pay their fuel bills," said Jeremy Hawksley, director general of OFTEC. "It is especially good news if there are measures that can be taken, namely installing a first time central heating system or insulating the home, to greatly enhance energy efficiency levels and lower bills in the process."
The Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) will soon launch a Local Authority competition to decide on how best the funding should be spent and hopes to receive bids that make the most of this initiative in terms of all it can bring to non-gas households.
"In addition to this new fund, there is even more good news for those individuals who live in houses that use oil heating but are struggling to pay their bills, as the cost of oil heating is at an all-time low," added Mr Askew. "Our OFTEC and FPS website www.oilsave.org.uk has a wide range of tips and information on how you can enhance your current oil heating system and home for even greater efficiency and energy savings."