HC Deb 13 February 1978 vol 944 cc13-5
10. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is his latest estimate of the cost of heating a three-bedroom semi-detached house, using electricity, oil, gas and solid fuel, respectively.

The Under-Secretary of State for Energy (Dr. John Cunningham)

As the reply contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the Official Report.

Mr. Smith

Since all houses, particularly those in the public and housing association sectors, should have more than one form of heating system, will the Minister get his Department to liaise with the Department of the Environment in order to get much-needed policies on this subject off the ground?

Dr. Cunningham

Yes, we are already doing that. The hon. Member raises a significant point. Too many houses in this country have no choice of fuel as they have a one-fuel system. This is principally a matter for the Department of the Environment, and we talk to that Department about it. The matter was discussed at some length in the Energy Commission this morning.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright

Will my hon. Friend take into account that where the one system in use in houses happens to be electricity it proves to be very costly to the tenants of those houses? Will he, therefore, look into the problem to try to help those people more than ever, because during the cold winter months their bills will go up to £90 and £100 a quarter?

Dr. Cunningham

These are principally matters for the Department of the Environment and local authorities, but may I deal with my hon. Friend's specific point by saying that this was the reason why we introduced the electricity discount scheme.

Mr. Gray

Reinforcing the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Smith), particularly in view of the recent extremely bad weather, may I ask the Minister to bear in mind that the average household, particularly in conditions such as we have experienced in the past month, likes an open fireplace? Will he liaise with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment to try to encourage this form of building to be resumed?

Dr. Cunningham

Yes, Sir.

Following is the information: The table below shows typical annual running costs of whole house heating—including hot water supply for a family of four—for a post-war three-bedroom semi-detached house. There will inevitably be considerable variations between these figures and individual householders' actual heating costs, owing to such factors as climatic variations, the wide variety of individual circumstances and living patterns, and differences in age and efficiency of heating systems. Actual costs may therefore be outside the ranges given. Installation charges, which are not included, are also subject to wide variations.
Electric 290–330
Oil 220–260
Gas 160–190
Smokeless solid fuel 160–210


1. Fuel prices at 1st October 1977.

2. Temperatures: 20°C average on ground floor, 16°C average elsewhere, maintained for about 12 hours a day, during the heating season.

3. Hot water: 250 gallons a week at 60°C.

4. Insulation: 3 inch mineral fibre in loft, 3 inch insulating jacket on hot water cylinder.

5. Modern, well-designed and controlled central heating systems assumed for oil, gas and solid fuel. Electric heating by off-peak storage heaters supplemented by electric fires at day rate.

6. Basic maintenance charge and standing charges included where appropriate.