Cold homes cost the NHS £1.36 billion every year

Respiratory, cardiovascular diseases and mental health issues can be triggered, and made worse, from living in cold homes. As a result, cold related illnesses caused by energy inefficient homes cost the NHS millions each year. In fact, it has been calculated by Age UK  that cold homes cost the NHS in England £1.36 billion annually in hospital and primary care of the elderly.

thermal-view-houseThe high costs of improving energy efficiency in homes may be off putting at first, however, the return in terms of energy bill savings and public spending could outweigh the initial investment. It has been estimated, and reported by organisations such as Friends of the Earth and Arup, that for every £1 spent on eradicating fuel poverty through home insulation, 42p would be saved in total in healthcare expenditure.

It would be easy to believe that these savings are all just theory. However, real case studies show that retrofit can drastically improve health and reduce healthcare expenditure. The Healthy Homes programme in Liverpool has provided assistance to landlords to improve the energy efficiency and housing condition of private sector properties. In total, improvements worth nearly £5 million have been carried out. An evaluation by the BRE has estimated that over a 10-year period, a reduction in cold related illnesses from these properties could save the NHS, and wider society, £55 million.  

Community led retrofit programmes to improve energy efficiency in homes seem to provide a winning combination of benefits. Many are unaware of the dire health consequences caused by hard to heat homes and the link that this has to public spending.  These savings suggest that there is a viable business case, as well as a social one, for community led energy efficiency programmes.

What do you think? Do you think there is a health and public spending case for retrofit? We would love you to join in the discussion.

To find out more about the The Healthy Homes Programme in Liverpool and other inspiring case studies visit:

SmartKlub is publishing a series of blogs on the benefits of community-led energy efficiency programmes. Read about an inspiring case study in Nottingham, our work with the UKGBC and find out more about the health impacts of living in cold homes.