An estimated 15,000 people died unnecessarily between December and March because they were living in homes they couldn’t afford to heat, new figures show. The news has led campaigners to hit out at what they claim is an inadequate Conservative pledge to help freezing people by insulating homes.

Fuel poverty campaigners reckon the number of excess winter deaths surged last winter to 49,260, of which around 14,780 were due to people living in cold homes. The Energy Bill Revolution estimates that the average number of excess winter deaths over the previous five years was 27,830, so last winter saw an increase of 77 per cent above the five year average...

The new figures follow research published two weeks ago that revealed that some 14.3 million households turned off heating at some point last winter to cut energy bills.

Some two-fifths of consumers said they left their oven door open after cooking and a quarter wore a coat, scarf or hat indoors to keep warm rather than turning on their heating, according to the uSwitch survey.

Ann Robinson of uSwitch, said: “It’s unacceptable that people should feel forced to gamble with their health to try and cope with sky-high energy bills.”

Making the homes of the fuel poor energy efficient is the most effective way to combat cold home deaths, reduce energy bills and bring them out of fuel poverty, says Energy Bill Revolution.

It has demanded that investment in making homes highly energy efficient be made a UK infrastructure capital spending priority...

Today’s figures were calculated by the Association for the Conservation of Energy which took the latest official ONS data together with provisional figures for 2014 to calculate that there have been 158,880 excess winter deaths during the five years of the last Parliament. It reckons that around 47,660 of them were down to people living in cold homes.

For more on Excess Winter Mortality

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