Residents of static mobile homes receive free energy advice
While most talk of fuel poverty and energy efficiency focuses on traditional homes, there's another type of dwelling that should be part of the conversation too - static mobile homes.
A new Ofgem trial is now underway to extend the government's Warm Home Discount initiative to low-income residents of these residences. This will provide the occupants with free energy efficiency advice and a £140 rebate on their winter heating bill.
In the past, those living in static mobile homes have not been eligible for the Warm Home Discount. This is mainly because they don't normally have a contract with energy suppliers. Instead, they usually have a supply agreement with the owners of the park site.
However, the residents can be among the most vulnerable to fuel poverty. Many are elderly and static mobile homes are often extremely energy inefficient. That's why in early 2015 the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) changed the rules for the scheme and enabled park home residents to be included.
The trial will run until March and, depending on the results, it could be scaled up for a nationwide roll-out later this year.
Commenting on the trial, chief executive of AgilityEco, Gearoid Lane, believes that the trial is an important step in supporting elderly people living in poorly insulated properties.
"Park home residents are often elderly, vulnerable to adverse weather conditions and their homes are likely to be thermally inefficient," he said, adding that these homes are normally heated with expensive fuels like bottled gas and electricity, meaning their winter bills can be very high.
"This results in a high incidence of fuel poverty amongst park home residents," he explained.
In October, AgeUK released figures indicating that around 100,000 people over the age of 65 live in static mobile homes. The charity pointed out that many of these homes were built before strict energy efficiency standards came into force and therefore they need better thermal insulation.
The group is campaigning for the government to do more to help these individuals - especially since energy energy efficiency schemes like the Green Deal have been axed in recent months.