‘Chilled to death’: the human cost of cold homes
New research by ACE for the Energy Bill Revolution campaign has found that in the last five years, 46,700 people in the UK have died due to living in a cold home.
Our research used official data on Excess Winter Deaths. This is an assessment of how many more people die in the winter than at other times of year. These deaths are primarily due to illnesses brought on by the cold. It is estimated by the World Health Organisation that 30% of Excess Winter Deaths are due to people living in cold homes.
We found that since the coalition Government came to power in 2010:
- 155,720 Excess Winter Deaths have occurred in the UK over the last five winters
- Around 46,700 of these deaths in the last five winters are due to people living in cold homes
- This winter will have seen the highest rate of Excess Winter Deaths and cold home deaths in the last five years. We estimate that there will have been 46,100 Excess Winter Deaths this winter, of which around 13,800 are due to people living in cold homes.
- The average number of Excess Winter Deaths over the previous five years is 27,830, of which around 8,350 are due to cold homes. So this winter has seen an increase in Excess Winter Deaths of 66% above the average.
In 2013, in England and Wales, cold homes killed over four times as many people as road and rail accidents; nearly four times as many people as drug misuse; and about as many people as alcohol.
Cold housing is one of a number of important issues for public health and safety. Focusing more resources on tackling this crisis does not mean taking resources away from tackling other health problems, such as those mentioned here. In fact it may free up resources to address them.
Cold home deaths can be prevented by improving the energy efficiency of the UK’s draughty, leaky housing stock. The UK Treasury has plans to spend £100 billion of public money on infrastructure over the course of the next Parliament. Investing just 3% of this budget in making homes highly energy efficient, alongside existing energy efficiency budgets, can bring two million UK low income homes up to a high standard of energy efficiency (EPC Band C) by 2020. The Energy Bill Revolution is calling for all six million low income homes to be brought up to this standard by 2025.
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