Sheffield Friends of the Earth Demand Warm Homes For All

United for Warm Homes is a growing national grassroots movement with more than 170 groups, powered by Friends of the Earth, to secure the national change that guarantees everyone benefits from a warm home that doesn’t cost the earth. 

In the runup to the nationwide “United for Warm Homes” day of action on 18 November, members of Sheffield Friends of the Earth have been using a thermal imaging camera to visualise how heat escapes from poorly insulated homes and buildings in Sheffield. 

A picture of the Lyceum taken with a thermal imaging camera

The images will be used to reinforce our petition that calls on local MPs to take action to keep our buildings warm without damaging the environment. 

The petition, signed by nearly 1000 people calls for the three actions:

  • Urgent support for people dealing with sky-high energy bills. Millions of people are struggling with soaring bills and the rising cost of living. The average energy bill has skyrocketed since 2021, leaving people facing impossible choices between staying warm and putting food on the table. Far more help is needed - through price guarantees, targeted extra payments, and fair energy pricing. The government must ensure everyone can afford the energy they need to keep their homes warm.   
  • A new emergency programme to insulate our heat-leaking homes. Upgrading our homes with insulation is the cheapest and easiest way to permanently reduce our bills and cut emissions. We’re calling on the government to roll out a rapid, street-by-street insulation programme, coordinated by councils. This should start with the neighbourhoods hardest hit by the crisis and be provided free of charge in areas where people are living on low incomes. This must be followed with deeper measures to upgrade our homes to ensure they are cheaper and greener to heat by 2030.  
  • An energy system powered by cheap, green renewables. To end the need for expensive and polluting gas in the long term, we must move to a homegrown, renewable energy system. This will require fitting millions of homes with modern electric-powered heat pumps and a rapid expansion of onshore wind and solar power across the UK, as well as our vast offshore renewable resources.  

Furthermore, from 18 November we will allow community groups to use the thermal image camera and receive training for free. Community groups should email to enquire about using the camera and receiving training. This free service will allow more residents of Sheffield to locate parts of their homes which are leaking energy. Action can then be taken to rectify the situation. Sheffield Friends of the Earth will be building up case studies explaining how to take action and if any funding is available to help. They will be on our website when ready.

A typical home with energy leaking out of the windows and the roof

Shaun from Sheffield Friends of the Earth said:

“Our thermal imaging camera captures heat images using colours to show hot, warm and cold spots. It was a real shock to discover how leaky our homes and buildings are. We are spending money on sky-high heating bills to warm the streets instead of our homes.

“It’s almost two years since energy prices first shot up, yet we’re still no closer to addressing the root causes of our sky-high bills. Our petition calls on local MPs to insulate our heat-leaking homes, provide urgent support for people dealing with expensive energy bills and to create an energy system powered by cheap, green renewables.”

Figures from Friends of the Earth show there are 155,977 inefficient homes in Sheffield with 79,000 suitable for loft or cavity wall insulation. The city has 98 areas in an energy crisis hotspot where incomes are less than average but energy bills are higher than average (because of poor housing).

The figures are taken from Friends of the Earth’s interactive map

An energy crisis hotspot is where incomes are less than average but energy bills are higher than average (because of poor housing).

Poor insulation locally – those with an energy performance rating of D or lower – making them inefficient and expensive to heat. By bringing the worst rated homes up to standard, prioritising action in the areas struggling most with energy affordability, the hardest hit households could save as much as £720 annually on their bills.

Inefficient homes are classed as those with an energy performance rating of D or lower.

Shaun continued,  “It’s not right that so many people across Sheffield must endure another difficult winter because of government failings, while the companies getting rich off soaring energy prices and climate destruction go on profiting at our expense. Everyone deserves to live in a warm, comfortable home and have their basic needs met”.

The main findings from the camera were that many buildings are poorly insulated and we need help from the government, However, small changes can help. For example, the temperature of the window area was up to 5 degrees warmer when the curtains were closed. Likewise, draft excluders helped keep the heat in. Installing insulated doors costing about £200 will save money in the long term as they make rooms warmer and more comfortable. 

Heat leaking out of Waterstones in Orchard Square because the door are left open.