Five towns in West Yorkshire have been named the coldest in Britain.
As temperatures have dropped below zero in many parts of the UK, the energy crisis has left many struggling to heat their homes. New research has identified the top 1,000 coldest neighbourhoods.
All five of the coldest areas are in West Yorkshire with Oakworth Road and West Lane in Keighley suffering the most, followed by Kings Cross in Halifax, Keighley Central and East, Pellon East in Halifax and Girlington in west Bradford. Birmingham, Blackpool, Bradford, Bristol, County Durham, Enfield, Luton, Rhonda Cynon Taf and Swale have the highest concentrations of coldest neighbourhoods in England and Wales.
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The UK has some of the worst insulated homes in Europe, making them expensive to heat as warmth escapes through walls, windows, roofs and doors, Mirror Online reports. Last month, a coroner said that the death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak, who died after “chronic exposure” to mould created by damp in his home, should be a “defining moment” for the UK’s housing sector.
Friends of the Earth, who carried out the research, is calling on the UK government to commit to a street-by-street insulation programme to keep people warm and well, while cutting bills and harmful carbon emissions. People of colour are more than twice as likely to live in some of England’s coldest neighbourhoods, according to their analysis. Those with disabilities, the elderly, and households living on low incomes are also among those disproportionately impacted by the energy crisis.
Catriona Currie, warm homes campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “We’ve heard how people are making every adjustment they can to ease the enormous cost pressures they’re facing, and the cold is far from the only problem – damp issues are putting health and wellbeing at risk too. No one should have to live in a freezing home, just so they can afford to pay for food or meet other rising living costs.”
Friends of the Earth calculated the list first identifying energy crisis hotspots using statistics on consumption and fuel prices and then comparing with data on incomes. To find the ‘coldest neighbourhoods’ within these hotspots Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) statistics, which show the average energy efficiency rating for homes (from A to G).
Oakworth Road in Keighley, which topped the list, had the highest number of homes rated just F and G at 12.6 per cent. The average rating in England and Wales is D.
Photojournalist Grey Hutton visited some of the hardest-hit areas with a thermal imaging camera to illustrate the homes hardest to heat. These neighbourhoods are the coldest due to low energy efficiency ratings, making energy use and bills higher than average, and where most people are also living on low incomes.
He found families where poorly insulated, heat-leaking homes are proving not just impossible to keep warm but are often riddled with damp issues and putting health and wellbeing at risk too.
Iqra, a 21-year-old living with her family spoke of the difficulty of retaining heat in her poorly-insulated home. She lives in the Broomfields and East Bowling area of Bradford, where the majority of residents (over 90%) are people of colour and 59% are under 18.
She said: “Our insulation is terrible. Everything is just escaping. We do have radiators but they do nothing for us. We have to turn the kitchen one off and the bathroom window doesn’t close properly, so whatever heat is in there we just lose it.
“Our kitchen is absolutely horrible. We’ve stopped covering the damp up now. My little sister’s asthma started last year. We went to the doctor’s and they gave her the inhalers, but how much can you do?”
78-year-old Audrey is a homeowner in Rhyl. She is disabled and has several health issues including arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and has recently had a triple heart bypass and hip replacement. She only heats one room in her house – her bedroom. Her neighbourhood in Rhyl is one of the top 10 coldest neighbourhoods in Wales.
She said: “I live upstairs because I prefer to keep to one room in the winter, especially at my age. “It’s about £20 a night to have the heating on. I only had it on for about 2 hours the other night and it was £20. I’ve been having to use a[n electric] heater in my room which is a bit cheaper.
“Even when I put this heater on it’s still cold. I’ve got no circulation in my feet or my hands.”
Catriona Currie, warm homes campaigner at Friends of the Earth, added: “Harrowing stories like this are shamefully all too common right now. We have millions of people facing an incredibly bleak winter ahead, and with the festive season right around the corner.
“The UK government must not delay this essential action to keep people warm and well.”