Ben Lake: ‘How water efficiency devices can mitigate fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions’

As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency, I have long championed and advocated for new and innovative measures which can lower household bills and carbon emissions, helping lift some of the most economically vulnerable out of fuel poverty.

But with a further 465,000 households falling into fuel poverty this winter just gone, taking the overall figure in the UK to 6.5 million, it is clear to me that we aren’t doing enough to help the most economically vulnerable, especially as energy bills are predicted to remain stubbornly high for the rest of the decade.

The Government’s flagship fuel poverty scheme, the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), has undoubtedly been helpful, delivering around 3.7 million measures to 2.5 million properties since its inception in 2013. However, its latest iteration, (ECO4) is proving overly procedural and restrictive in what retrofit methods can be used in the scheme. For example, many homes in fuel poverty are finding themselves unable to access the scheme due to strict requirements on EPC increases that make their homes ineligible. Due to the huge increases in inflation we’ve experienced in recent years, many homes are also finding that the cost of upgrading their homes is beyond the strict cost restrictions in ECO4, which have not been adjusted for inflation.

But one other area it is also falling short is excluding technologies that can help improve the water efficiency of a home. In the average UK household, 17% of the average energy bill goes on heating water according to the Energy Saving Trust. This means if household water consumption can be reduced, so can both energy and water bills.

In the UK there are technologies that can do this now, such as by reducing the fluctuations in water pressure. For example, in a recent pilot in Crawley Council, a product devised by the UK company Cenergist yielded savings of £400 in annual energy and water bills, as well as reducing domestic consumption by 23%.

Recent signals coming out of both DEFRA and DESNZ indicate that the Government may be open to examining the role of water efficiency technologies could play in the decarbonisation of the UK’s housing stock and help tackle fuel poverty. What is vital though is that the government acts. As a recent report by National Energy Action found, the government is set to fall short of its fuel poverty target by a staggering margin, with three million households still expected to be in fuel poverty by 2030.

With the forthcoming General Election expected to hinge on which party can address an ongoing cost of living crisis and a stagnating economy, political parties that are serious about solving some of the most pressing social issues of our time should look again at how they are tackling fuel poverty, and ensure they are using every tool at their disposal to end it once and for all. is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.