Cost of living: Number of energy crisis "hotspots" in Dacorum revealed
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More than a dozen neighbourhoods in Dacorum are set to be worst impacted by the energy crisis when the price cap rises in October, new analysis suggests.
Climate charity Friends of the Earth said there is "no downplaying" the catastrophic energy disaster facing millions of people this winter if bills rise as expected without Government intervention.
Analysis by Friends of the Earth shows 18 out of 94 neighbourhoods in Dacorum are at greatest risk of financial hardship when the price cap rises in October this year.
Across England and Wales, nearly 9,000 areas have been classed as "energy crisis hotspots".
Friends of the Earth analysed smart meters and unmetered fuel consumption to determine areas where energy use is above normal levels.
It says neighbourhoods with above-average costs and lower than average household income are defined as energy crisis hotspots.
Cornwall Insights predicts that after the price cap has risen in October, an average household will pay bills of more than £3,600 per year, significantly more than double the £1,400 figure last October.
From January, this is predicted to further increase to £4,300 and the consultancy group expects bills to remain high throughout 2023.
Energy regulator Ofgem is due to announce the new price cap – which will come into effect at the start of October – on Friday, August 26.
Friends of the Earth has urged the Government to provide meaningful intervention before the autumn price cap rise instead of the "woeful and poorly targeted cash handouts" announced in April.
Mike Childs, head of science, policy and research at Friends of the Earth, said the Government must "beef up its package of emergency financial support" and protect the most vulnerable to soaring price rises.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said it is providing £37 billion worth of support to help households during the cost-of-living crisis.
Mr Childs also said houses across the country must be more effectively insulated to protect consumers against future price rises and reduce the amount of energy required to heat homes in winter.
"The highest priority of all is fixing the UK’s leaky, inefficient housing stock, otherwise cash handouts will be required year on year," said Mr Childs.
He added: "By rolling out a free programme of street-by-street energy efficiency measures and prioritising the most in-need neighbourhoods, we can help to bring bills down quickly, make homes warmer and slash Earth-warming emissions at the same time."
In Dacorum, 2,330 homes require cavity wall insulation and 3,490 need loft insulation.
Nationally, they are among 1.2 million and 1.3 million homes needing these improvements respectively.
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: "We are investing £6.6 billion in this parliament to improve energy efficiency as part of the Government’s 'Help to Heat' programme, which is helping make households across the country cheaper to heat."