The terrible curse of fuel poverty

Britons keep their homes at least 4C warmer than in the 1970s, as people no longer accept “the need to wear thick clothes at home in winter”, a government-commissioned study has found.

Despite the typical household seeing their bills rise by £200 in real terms, many of us are choosing to heat our homes at 17.7C in winter, compared with 13.7C in 1970.

The report said people in 1970 had “very different expectations of thermal comfort”.

“Most families in 1970 lived in homes that would be cold by modern standards in winter – as cool as 12C on average.

“There may have been ice on the insides of the windows, and nearly everyone accepted the need to wear thick clothes at home in winter,” it said.

Despite the increased temperatures, the average household now uses 18 per cent less energy, “largely due to the dramatic improvements in the efficiency of space and water heating”.

In 1970 “most of the energy was lost up chimneys”, it said.

Just disgraceful, isn’t it?

And given that what actually appears in GDP is the fuel bill almost none of that increase in the standard of living is reflected in the official figures.

24 thoughts on “The terrible curse of fuel poverty”

  1. Try getting my wife to accept living in the house at 17.7C…she likes it at a minimum of 20C in the winter, often turning it up to 22 before I step in and put it down again..it’s the subect of a never-ending war of attrition!

  2. We, occasionally, have ice on the inside of our living room windows. Not this winter, thankfully. A combination of a huge single-glazed set of bay windows (will sort that this summer) and working (and used) interior shutters.

  3. Shit, I keep wherever I’m living for that particular week at 22-23C (except when I lived in Russia, when it was 38C indoors thanks to the wonders of superheated steam and district heating). Who the fuck wants to walk around their house in heavy outdoor clothing?

  4. This could be a cause of obesity if those who wish to keep warm by turning up the heating to tropical are not burning calories to keep warm.

  5. Central heating on 30C at the moment, until about May. Thats comfortable for me to not have an allergic reaction and most of the time can work from home wearing joggers and a hoodie. or sweatshirt.
    In summer if warm enough will at best have the heating on overnight or if really hot will have heating off for a few days. Rare, last summer one of the few occasions could afford to do that.

    Maybe people nowadays are not willing to accept the cold their parents and grandparents did. Standard of living increase and all that, no longer do we have to light the coal fire to warm a room.

  6. Upstairs bedroom during this week 12C, sitting room 13C, kitchen 19C, my office 25C (log stove). Needless to say I rarely leave the office.

  7. District heating is the bomb. I’m with Mr Newman there, but don’t heat anything like that much (I guess Nigeria does things for your temperature expectations.) Total precision controllability of every individual radiator in terms of temperature and time, 24/7/365, no pump, no boiler to break down at 2AM on Christmas day, 100% thermal efficiency on the customer’s side, half the energy from domestic waste that would otherwise be landfilled. What’s not to like?

  8. I’m waiting for someone to tell us the 4ºC difference is due to global worming and we’re really just heating the same relative to outside temperatures.

  9. What that’s showing is the contrary result of more home insulation. The more insulation goes in, the higher the energy use.
    Because of course, people change their behaviour. In the 70s, people were still treating their living rooms as their primary living area & bedrooms heated at need. Now the living area has extended to the entire house. Where they expect to dress us if they were sitting around the living room fire.

  10. We don’t let the temp fall below 15c between 7am and 11pm during winter months and it never really drops lower than 10c to 12c even in the small hours. When we are sitting in the evenings, the thermostat gets flicked round to 20c and if mrs redacto complains, I invite her to borrow a fleece. Domestic boilers are more efficient and reliable than even 10 years ago and insulation is far better than in the 1970s, both in quality and quantity. It is, of course, possible to wear a T shirt in the house all winter without going to ruinous expense, but why would you? Duel fuel currently costing £70 a month – really quite reasonable for size of the house. This is a lifestyle story, not a fuel poverty story.

  11. When I was a lad in the 60’s winters,, before we had central heating, the house was both cold and damp in all the rooms until my Dad had lit the fire in the living room. We had rugs and oilcloth on the floor (no fitted carpets until years later) and the lino was often bitterly cold. I didn’t sit in my bedroom in the winter because it was too bloody cold and hot water bottles and better still electric blankets were a Godsend. I still remember how wonderful it was to get into my warm bed on a freezing night. Solid fuel central heating in 1968 changed all that–and it is not going to backwards. That’s what the green gang are angling for –and they can go fuck themselves.

  12. Between 90% & 98% of electricity prices are political parasitism. The effect of this is to deliberately kill at least half of the 34,000 excess winter deaths and because gdp grows in step with energy use, to produce the “world recession” which the rest of the world isn’t in.

    This is publicly acknowledged as LabConDem policy by every honest MP in those parties, but only every honest one.

  13. Pingback: Editorial Intelligence

  14. The air temperature created by convection or whatever? would have been low indoors in 1970 but people plonked themselves in front of whacking great fires where the radiant heat was enormous; in our house enough to destroy people’s shoes slowly. Open fires were also great for burning unwanted bills, legal threats ,propaganda that the unions were holding the country to ransom and other irritants.

  15. My experience matches JT’s. I suspect that if we passed a law forbidding any woman from turning a heating thermostat up and forbidding any man from turning an air-conditioning thermostat down we might even be in with a chance of surviving on renewable energy alone!

  16. Guys, I hate to say it, but this thread reads like that old Monty Python sketch:
    “We had it tough. Had to get up before we went to bed, slept in a lake…”

    Now when I was a kid we didn’t have anything like central heating. But then we were living in the Zambezi Valley.

  17. A childhood memory I have very clearly is arriving in the cold country in the middle of the Winter of Discontent. Aah yes, the uncollected rubbish, the unburoed dead, pictures on the News of ambulances being turned away from hospitals, the bloody lights going out in our new home. Yeah right, propaganda.

  18. It’s 11.30 pm here and the thermometer says 23.5°C. It was 27°C in the middle of the day. Ah, the joys of living 1300m above sea level in the tropics. Of course I’m completely ruined for the UK outside of June–August.

  19. What’s not to like?

    Not much, other than the authorities failing to predict a cold snap and switching on the heating a week or two late, leaving everyone freezing their asses off. Happened to me a few times, in Russia and Lithuania.

  20. “Ah, the joys of living 1300m above sea level in the tropics.”

    We live about 30m above the sea in the tropics, and currently await the arrival of Tropical Cyclone Dylan. The rain is near horizontal and feels like needles on the skin.

    I agree100% about UK only in the summer. MrsBud keeps going on about Christmas in the UK and I keep promising to drop her off at the airport and pick her up when she returns.

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