The UK government recently launched “It all adds up”, a campaign aimed at providing “simple, low or no-cost actions that households can take to immediately cut energy use and save money”. The campaign speaks to persistent calls to increase the assistance provided to households across the UK.
Rapid energy price rises have pushed millions into fuel poverty, with an estimated nine million people spending Christmas 2022 in cold and damp homes. For many, independent advice on safely reducing energy use and accessing financial assistance can make a vital difference in confronting the combined cost of living and energy crises.
Trustworthy advice goes far beyond a few short-term behavioural “hacks” – some of which have been rightly criticised – to also include deeper measures to upgrade the UK’s inefficient housing stock.
To meet its climate change targets and protect households from rising energy costs, the UK must rapidly insulate millions of homes and install low-carbon technologies such as heat pumps. But installing such measures is often complicated and there is limited information, guidance or support. The UK can’t decarbonise its energy system without increasing the help available to households from trained energy experts.
Reducing the UK’s carbon emissions should go hand-in-hand with tackling fuel poverty. Inefficient housing, heating systems and appliances are key drivers of fuel poverty, and people living in well-insulated, low-carbon homes are more likely to have affordable energy bills. While advice alone will never solve fuel poverty, when combined with other measures it can make a vital contribution. Advisers can point people towards appropriate government aid and utility support schemes or help arrange debt repayment plans, or insulation and heating upgrades.
We know what works
Academic and policy experts, including ourselves, have undertaken extensive research on integrated energy advice in the UK and beyond. Numerous pilot projects across the UK and similar countries provide a useful testbed for understanding what works.