Some families are seeing up to 30 per cent of their energy bill “go straight out of the window” because of a lack of insulation, Citizens Advice has warned.
The advice service said that many families would continue to struggle with high energy costs and cold damp homes despite the recently announced bill freeze. And this was because of a lack of investment in basic cost-saving measures such as insulation.
The government’s freeze on energy prices means that the average bill will be £2,500 a year from Saturday 1 October.
But Citizens Advice said that more than a million people living in homes with an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of F would face an average bill of more than £3,000.
And draughty and inefficient homes meant that they would lose £950 worth of the heat they pay for through the walls, windows and roof, it warned.
It calculated that households would save a combined total of £8.1 billion a year if all homes had an EPC rating of C.
Currently, the majority of homes in England and Wales are below this standard, a significant proportion being pre-war buildings. Brighton and Hove has a significant number of older homes.
Even though households in London and the south east are most likely to be in a better position than those in some other regions, more than half still have poor EPC ratings.
Almost half (44 per cent) of homeowners are actively considering improving their homes but cost was cited as the main reason by those who are not.
Citizens Advice Brighton and Hove energy projects manager Rich Jones said: “Most of the people we advise are disabled or have a long-term health condition. One person we’ve spoken to is relying on her son to do her washing by hand to save on electricity.
“She says she’s cold all the time. Several parents have told us their children’s bedrooms are so damp that they’ve given them their room and are now sleeping on the sofa or floor instead.
“Grants, budgeting and benefit checks can only provide some short-term relief. But improving their homes would make a big difference.”
Citizens Advice chief executive Dame Clare Moriarty said: “The government’s bill freeze puts an emergency stop to terrifying price hikes. Now we need an exit strategy from this energy crisis.
“Bills are going through the roof – literally for people in cold and draughty homes, where heat seeps out when they turn up the thermostat. This is burning through many people’s tight budgets.
“Insulating our homes is the long-term solution that will cut down our bills and reduce our dependence on gas. The government must make it a top priority.”