Cold Homes Kill More People Than Alcohol, Road Accidents Or Drug Abuse

March 25th, 2015

Britain’s freezing homes are a silent killer, the Government has been warned.

During the Coalition Government’s five years in power, 46,700 people died simply because they live in cold homes.

Analysis of official data by the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) today reveals, for the first time, the number of deaths each year directly related to cold homes. This represents 30% of the total number of Excess Winter Deaths according to the World Health Organisation.

The new figures from ACE estimate that this winter (2014/15) has been the deadliest in the last five  years, with two thirds more cold homes deaths than the average.

The Energy Bill Revolution, the world’s largest fuel poverty campaign, has slammed the Coalition for failing to live up to its rhetoric on cold homes.

Over 44,000 people have backed an Avaaz petition which was delivered to George Osborne, Ed Balls and Danny Alexander today demanding that all parties prioritise using infrastructure funds to invest in home energy efficiency in their manifestos which are due to be finalised this week.

Campaigners point to a long list of Government failures throughout the last Parliament which have seen an unprecedented fall in the support available to people who can’t afford to heat their homes:

  • The Coalition has cut the Energy Companies Obligation, presided over Green Deal debacle, and abolished schemes like Warm Front.
  • The most effective way to bring down energy bills is to install energy efficiency measures which can save a household more than £400 per year. But the amount of energy efficiency support available to the fuel poor has plummeted 80% in the last two years. This year saw the lowest number of families since 2002 receive Government insulation support to keep their homes warm, according to today’s ACE research.
  • The Government boasts about installing energy efficiency measures in 1 million households under their new schemes but if they had kept to their old schemes, 2.8 million households would have received them. As a result 1.8 million families have missed out on home improvements during the Parliament.

Ed Matthew, director of the Energy Bill Revolution, said:

“Cold homes are one of the most deadly killers in Britain today, but this silent menace is too often ignored because it happens behind closed doors. The evidence shows that insulation support for the fuel poor has plummeted through the floor during this Parliament. The Government must step up and put a stop to these unnecessary deaths, by committing infrastructure funds to home energy efficiency and ending our cold homes crisis once and for all.”

Today’s figures show that cold homes killed more people in 2013 than carbon monoxide, fire, assault, and road / rail accidents combined.

Britain is second only to Estonia for fuel poverty in Europe, and cold homes have led to more people admitted to hospital with breathing problems than Sweden over the past five years.

The NHS is bearing the burden of this Government failure. Cold homes cost the NHS £1.36 billion every year, according to Age-UK.

Leaky and cold homes are a cause of illnesses including chronic lung disease, asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia.

According to consultants Cambridge Econometrics, investing just 3% of the infrastructure budget in energy efficiency would take 2 million homes out of fuel poverty by 2020. Such a programme would increase UK GDP by £13.9bn a year by 2030 and create 108,000 new jobs.

Mass public support saw the Energy Bill Revolution’s campaign video recently go viral. The video of political leaders singing a spoof version of Frozen hit ‘let it go’ reached 5 million people.

Sam Barratt, Campaign Director of Avaaz said:

“David Cameron may think insulating homes is ‘green crap’, but having a warm home can be the difference between life and death for the most vulnerable in our society. It really is a disgrace that only Estonia has worse fuel poverty than Britain in Europe. All parties must commit to radical action using infrastructure funds to insulate homes to save lives in their manifestos to stop this country’s cold home killer.”

Sign the petition here -



Notes to editors:

1. How cold homes compare to other causes of death

Selected causes of death in 2013, England and Wales Cause of death Number of deaths in 2013
Air travel accidents 18
Carbon monoxide 197
Fire 246
Assault 309
Road and rail accidents 1,574
Drug misuse 1,947
Motor neuron disease 2,170
Skin cancer 2,641
Brain cancer 3,567
Parkinson’s disease 4,518
Related to alcohol 7,059
Related to cold homes 7,400
Prostate cancer 9,726
Breast cancer 10,230


2. The Energy Bill Revolution is the world’s biggest fuel poverty campaign. The campaigners are calling for :

  • Home energy efficiency to be made a UK national infrastructure spending priority.
  • 2 million UK low income homes given grants to make their homes highly energy efficient (EPC Band C) by 2020, with all 6 million homes brought up to this standard by 2025.
  • 0% loans for energy efficiency measures for the able to pay.
  • This programme would create the world’s most ambitious home energy efficiency programme, slashing energy bills and carbon emissions, creating over 100,000 jobs and helping end the fuel poverty crisis once and for all.

3. Today’s figures are taken from “Chilled To Death: The Human Cost of Cold Homes”, published by the Association for the Conservation of Energy. PDF copies of the report are available on request.

4. The Avaaz campaign was launched on Sunday (25/3/15) and has already been signed by 47,000 UK citizens and over 10,000 people have sent messages directly to George Osborne, Ed Balls and Danny Alexander calling for investment in cold homes from the infrastructure fund.  Avaaz is a global civic movement of over 42 million people worldwide with 1.6 million members in the UK. To see the full campaign and the latest number of signers, click here:

MPs supporting the campaign
The only permanent solution to drive down energy bills and end fuel poverty.