Four million households across the UK (15 per cent of the population) are off the mains gas grid and are reliant on expensive alternatives to gas to heat their homes.
A typical three-bedroom house costs on average £975 per year to heat on mains gas, but this goes up to £1575 on heating oil, and as much as £2175 on bulk LPG.
These higher fuel prices are compounded by the off-gas grid housing stock, which all have much lower energy efficiency, as they’re more likely to be older properties with solid walls.
Even when owners of off-grid homes look into measures such as solid wall insulation, other challenges, such as these homes being listed or located in conservation areas, mean that many would require a great deal of disruption if a package of Green Deal options were installed.
As a result, the off-gas grid population is much more likely to be fuel poor. In Great Britain 32 per cent of off-gas grid households are fuel poor, compared to 15 per cent of those on-grid.
With these troubling stats, it’s not surprising that organisations and the government are increasingly looking at ways to help homes off the grid save money on their energy bills. Recently the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Off-Gas Grid published a report which provided a series of recommendations to government for how it can protect UK households that live off-grid.
At the Energy Saving Trust, we use our Home Analytics service to understand the main areas in the UK for off-grid homes and how this is related to areas of high fuel poverty. This is so we can provide an additional level of understanding to this issue, and at the same time, provide effective solutions to help these households in the future.
Calor Gas, whose main customers are rural off-grid households (sometimes in very remote parts of the UK), is another organisation trying to help. It has developed an energy efficiency tool, powered by the Energy Saving Trust, showing customers how and where their home currently uses energy, as well as providing simple ways to reduce both energy consumption and carbon emissions, and simultaneously save money.
This new tool is just one way we can engage with households who live off the gas grid. There will always be a number of recommendations for improving the situation, but until we have meaningful solutions to engage off-grid households, problems such as high energy bills, high fuel poverty and low energy efficiency, will persist.
Ultimately it’s down to targeting the right areas and providing the right advice, help and support. If we do this then there’s no reason why off-grid homes can’t feel the full benefits of a more energy efficient home, regardless of their situation.