Housing, Energy Efficiency And Fuel Poverty

Authored by: Brenda Boardman

The Routledge Handbook Of Planning For Health And Well-Being

Print publication date:  June  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9781138023307
eBook ISBN: 9781315728261
Adobe ISBN: 9781317542407


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Fuel poverty occurs when a low-income household cannot pay for the energy services that it needs from a reasonable proportion of income. All aspects of this definition are country specific: a reasonable proportion of income depends upon both the levels of income and fuel prices. In a country with high fuel prices, such as many Eastern European countries and Northern Ireland, the proportion is likely to be high. The energy services required vary with the geographical location and severity of the winter and the energy efficiency of the dwelling: an energy inefficient home in a country with short winters could cost more to heat than an energy efficient property in a country with a long, hard winter. The concept, however, is universal – even the poorest people should be able to afford the heating, lighting and other energy services that are considered a basic requirement by the average household. A useful rule of thumb is that no household should have to pay more than twice the median proportion of income on fuel. This was the basis for the original UK definition: in 1988, the average household spent 5 per cent on fuel, so twice the median and the original definition of fuel poverty was that it occurred if the required expenditure exceeded 10 per cent of income (Boardman 1991, p. 205).

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