‘The cold man of Europe’

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Conish EPC league table

A report has revealed that Cornish residents face energy bills which are up to twice the national average as a consequence of living in some of the most poorly-insulated homes in the country.

‘The Cold Man of Europe’ report, published by the Association for the Conservation of Energy, has highlighted the poor state of Cornwall’s housing stock.

Four of the county’s parliamentary constituencies rank in the top 20 areas with the highest share of homes with the lowest energy efficiency ratings, the remaining two constituencies fall within the top 40.

St Ives has been named as the constituency with the highest number of poorly-insulated homes in England, where 50% of homes have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E, F or G.

North Cornwall ranks as the sixth worst with 42%, followed by Truro and Falmouth in 13th place with 41% and Camborne and Redruth in 17th place with 40%.  The energy efficiency of south east Cornwall and St Austell and Newquay constituencies fare slightly better where 38% are rated within the bottom energy efficiency brackets.

According to the report, householders living in the most energy inefficient homes need to spend on average £2,670 to heat and light their homes, compared to the national average of £1,210.

Dr Tim Jones
Dr Tim Jones

The report also reveals that the UK ranks last overall among 16 comparable European countries on a range of fuel poverty and energy efficiency indicators.

Government figures published in July revealed that Cornwall has the twelfth worst problem with energy affordability in the country due to a combination of low incomes, a high number of homes with solid walls and a high proportion of properties which are not served by the gas network which are reliant on expensive forms of heating.

As households begin to turn on their heating for winter, the Cornish energy charity Community Energy Plus is calling on Cornish MPs to join the growing consensus urging the Government to make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority.

Chief executive, Dr Tim Jones, said: “Successive energy efficiency schemes funded by levies on energy bills have failed to provide the level of assistance that is required to improve the energy efficiency of the county’s housing stock.

“Energy affordability is a massive problem for many householders in Cornwall and this latest report underlines the need for publicly funded insulation schemes to improve the energy efficiency of our homes and lift thousands of families out of fuel poverty.

“Cornwall’s devolution deal sets out the Government’s commitment to work with Cornwall Council to develop proposals for projects to improve the energy efficiency of our housing stock.  We are working closely with Cornwall Council to share our expertise in delivering local insulation schemes in order to ensure that future initiatives are shaped to meet the specific challenges we experience in Cornwall.”