Around a quarter of households in Nidderdale are living in fuel poverty and struggle to heat their homes, a regional action group has stated.
Rural Action Yorkshire said it believes 24 per cent of people living in Nidderdale are in fuel poverty, significantly more than the 17.3 per cent in Harrogate and 19.8 per cent across North Yorkshire.
Fuel poverty is when more than 10 per cent of a household’s income is spent on heating the home.
Rural Action Yorkshire said that as Nidderdale generally has no mains gas, residents have limited and expensive choices for heating their homes, with heating oil being one of the most common options.
Kathryn Campbell, North Yorkshire Development Officer at Rural Action Yorkshire said: “Without gas they are unable to benefit from duel fuel tariffs on their electricity.
“There are limited suppliers for fuel oil and people can’t use price comparison sites. All the options are more expensive so people start to limit their energy use by turning the heating off. A lot of people are living in cold damp homes.”
Pateley Bridge town councillor Chris Hawkesworth said: “The cost of filling my oil tank has risen from £300 to £3,000 over the past 15 years.
“It seems to be a silent problem. Living out in the countryside is getting more and more expensive and the cost of fuel is giving middle class folk a cash flow problem.”
He added: “It’s more costly for retired people, those who work from home or young families.”
Coun Hawkesworth said that he is currently heating his home to around 15 degrees, despite the Department of Energy and Climate Change stating that between 18 and 21 degrees is necessary to maintain a satisfactory heating level. Rural Action Yorkshire state that living in a cold damp home can cause serious health problems and these issues cost health and social services around £1billion a year across the UK.
Ms Campbell said: “We urgently need to find solutions and to start improving this situation. I am actively involved in setting up fuel oil buying co-operatives and so far this has been mainly in Richmondshire, Ryedale and Hambleton.
“I would welcome enquiries from communities in Nidderdale if they would like support to set one up.”
She added: “A lot of people are eligible for grants and benefits from the council and the government but don’t apply.”
Harrogate Borough Council are encouraging people living in fuel poverty to take advantage of their offer of free loft insulation and cavity wall insulation to all residents, through the Wrapping up Yorkshire scheme. Anyone interested should call the Yorkshire Energy Partnership on 01904 554406.
• Are you affected by this problem and are struggling to heat your home? Contact Nidderdale.firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet us @HarrogateHound.