Sometimes you simply despair
20th Jul 2020
Last week I tweeted about a major Fuel Poor Network Extension scheme that replaces old electric storage heaters with new gas central heating systems, across a large number of homes. I must confess, supporting measures to tackle fuel poverty like this I wasn’t expecting the tirade of objections I received.
In general, they were young, male, well-educated and all argued that gas should not have been used. Their objection was the use of fossil fuel gas. Life is black and white for them, and I would wager, they don’t worry about when the next pay cheque will come in. They don’t worry about how they feed and keep a family warm during a cold winter. They don’t have to cope with cold, damp living conditions, exacerbating poor health. For them fuel poverty might be something they are opposed to but not enough to dilute the strength of their opposition to using gas.
So I turned for advice to the Energy Savings Trust, not a pro-gas body and their website states “Electric storage heating …is one of the most expensive heating options in the UK, and it emits more carbon dioxide than most systems …It is also harder to control electric storage heaters than radiators, especially with older systems.”
I looked at the npower website, they supply both gas and electricity, and they state
“If you’re currently using electric storage heaters, it may make sense to change your central heating to a gas boiler-powered wet system … you could slash your heating bills by half, and save around £560 a year.”
We should not be decarbonising heat on the backs of the least well-off in society, and if we connected every applicable fuel poor home to the gas network, I would not bat an eyelid. We would make massive in-roads to alleviating fuel poverty; provide a step-change to the quality of life of those households, and deliver a significant public health intervention saving lives and the NHS millions.
But for the detractors, I would now add, in doing so make those homes low carbon gas compatible, so helping to deliver Net Zero. And if we don’t supply this message, then I know there are others, who don’t approve, who will fill the space with their zealotry.
Mike Foster, CEO