What is fuel poverty?
Broadly speaking a household is defined as being ‘fuel poor’ if they cannot reasonably afford to heat their home.
Currently in England, fuel poverty is measured using the Low Income Low Energy Efficiency (LILEE) indicator. This defines a household as being fuel poor if:
- They are living in a property with an EPC rating D or below
- Spending the amount required to heat their home would leave them with a residual income below the official poverty line
Another common definition used by organisations such as the National Action Energy Charity states that a household is experiencing fuel poverty if they are spending 10% or more of their total household income on energy bills.
There are three main contributors to fuel poverty: low income, high fuel costs and inefficient homes (see diagram below).
Impacts on health
Why cold temperatures are dangerous
Living in a cold home has impacts on physical and mental health.
Physical health impacts:
- Cold raises blood pressure
- Cardiovascular problems
- Respiratory problems
- Higher falls risks
- Cold is dangerous to those with high blood pressure
Mental health impacts
- stress & anxiety over bills
- social isolation
- lowers mood
- going to bed early to stay warm
- spending time in public buildings to avoid home
Excess Winter Deaths (EWD’s)
EWDs are the difference between the average daily deaths in the winter months (December to March) compared to the rest of the year.
The following figures are for England & Wales EWDs (Including COVID-19):
|England & Wales EWD’s||Portsmouth EWD’s|
2021 to 2022
To be confirmed
|2020 to 2021||60,760||
|2019 to 2020||10,400||
Causes of Excess Winter Deaths:
The top three causes of EWD’s are: respiratory conditions, circulatory conditions and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (see diagram below). Many of the causes can be linked to living in cold homes
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE): ‘Excess winter deaths and illness and the health risks associated with cold homes’ Guidance
- How to stay well in winter (NHS Guide)
- Local Authority Toolkit