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Pinacl’s Digital Property Management Solution - Detecting fuel poverty early on

A household is considered to be fuel poor if they have required fuel costs that are above average (the national median level) and, were they to spend that amount, they would be left with a residual income below the official poverty line.

The fuel poverty status of a household depends on the interaction between three key drivers: household incomes, household energy efficiency and fuel prices.

The Low Income High Cost (LIHC) indicator is the official fuel poverty indicator and classes a household as being in fuel poverty if its required energy costs are above the average (median) for its household type and this expenditure pushes it below the poverty line.

Reducing fuel poverty helps more people to be healthier, helping the economy. There is a substantial body of evidence linking cold temperatures with ill health and higher mortality and morbidity rates in winter, and the World Health Organisation estimates that 30% of winter deaths are caused by cold housing.

Fuel poor living in the private rented sector are the most severely impacted with a fuel poverty gap of £410. Fuel poor households with uninsulated walls are most severely impacted by fuel poverty.

Although the majority of fuel poverty occurs in privately the rented sector, 18% of all people experiencing fuel poverty live in homes which are rented from a local authority (8%) or through a housing association (10%)

Social housing (both local authority and housing association) tends to have greater levels of insulation, resulting in lower energy costs, and therefore, limiting the depth of fuel poverty within these property types. So, if the temperature levels are considerably low in cold winter months while the house is occupied, then this is likely to be due to lack of heating. 

Our temperature sensors can detect fuel poverty by monitoring and recording the temperature every hour and alerting the relevant people if the reading show a concerningly low temperature over a period of time. The housing provider’s can then address the problem, not only will this improve tenant health by ensuring they are warm in their home, but it will also ensure the house temperature is adequate to prevent mould/damp formation.

As well as being safe, all homes should be provided and maintained to a decent standard. The Regulator of Social Housing requires that social homes meet the Decent Homes Standard, which requires social homes to be in a reasonable state of repair and efficient heating and effective insulation.

According to Public Health England’s Local action on health inequalities report, helping to identify and support people at risk of fuel poverty is another important role for local organisations and public health. “Local authorities have a central role to play in tackling issues relating to fuel poverty and the negative health consequences relating to cold homes. Local authorities are well placed to understand and meet the needs of those living within local areas and can improve people’s living conditions through effective targeting of resources tailored towards those most in need.”

During the Government Green paper review, tenants reported that “We have a gas fire that throws absolutely no heat out at all. All the radiators in the bedroom are also old and no good and the council go on about a warm home campaign and saving money, but it costs us a fortune in fuel to try and get the house warm. We might as well sit outside, it makes no difference half the time.”

Our solution can detect problems like those illustrated above before tenants flag up the issue. It can monitor the temperature, so housing providers are alerted when temperatures drop below the threshold, enabling them to address the issue efficiently.

Pinacl’s Digital Property Management solution will save housing providers time, money and resources because they will have full visibility into properties, enabling them to see which ones are problematic and attend only to those with problems that need addressing.

Cracks in the walls can let in water and cause damp in properties making the house cold even if the heating is turned on. If the tenant says that the heating is on but the temperature readings on the dashboard are still low, then this could signal other issues such as cracks in the walls or damp formation.

Book your Digital Property Management demo here.

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