Archived press release
Press & Media

The Government will publish its latest excess winter mortality statistics for England and Wales, covering the bitterly cold winter of 2009/2010, on Tuesday 23 November.

Cold, badly insulated homes are associated with poor health, unaffordable fuel bills and high carbon emissions. Friends of the Earth is urging the Government to tackle these social and environmental problems by ensuring all UK homes are made energy efficient - with particular emphasis on improving the worst housing first.

To meet our legal targets to cut climate-changing emissions, the environmental campaigning charity says we need to reduce carbon emissions from our homes by at least 42 per cent by the end of the decade. Friends of the Earth is calling for the forthcoming Energy Bill to include legislation to ensure the UK produces a strategy to meet these objectives.

As a first step, the Bill must include a minimum energy efficiency standard for homes rented through a private landlord so that from 2016 it becomes illegal to let the very worst, health-hazard homes until they are improved.

Friends of the Earth's Energy Campaigner Dave Timms said:

"Cold homes cost lives and cause climate change. It is a national disgrace that millions of people live in properties lacking basic insulation - every winter households have to choose between heating and eating.

"Spending time in a cold, damp house can make heart disease, strokes and flu more likely. Insulating our homes and making them cheaper to heat would prevent illness, slash emissions, cut fuel bills and create thousands of jobs.

"The forthcoming Energy Bill must play its part by setting a legal minimum energy efficiency standard for privately rented homes to protect vulnerable tenants from ill health and high fuel bills."

Key statistics

  • In winter 2008/2009 there were an estimated 36,700 excess winter deaths in England and Wales (an increase of 49 per cent on the previous winter and the highest since 1999/2000) and 40,210 for the UK as a whole.
  • Mortality in England rises 18 per cent during the winter months whereas colder countries have smaller increases. Finland has 45 per cent fewer winter deaths than the UK.
  • The annual cost to the NHS of treating winter related disease due to cold private housing is £859 million, according to the Chief Medical Officer's annual report for 2009.


Notes to editors

  1. Friends of the Earth is calling for the Government to seize the chance to prove it really is the 'greenest ever' with an Energy Security and Green Economy Bill that will stop our homes leaking heat in the next decade and ensure every community does its bit to slash CO2 emissions.
  2. A factfile on cold homes, carbon emissions and fuel poverty is available.
If you're a journalist looking for press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.


Published by Friends of the Earth Trust