Skip to content
Back to Blog How Much Suffering Does Fuel Poverty Actually Cause?
Fuel Poverty

How Much Suffering Does Fuel Poverty Actually Cause?

Social housing providers already know that fuel poverty isn't good - but how much suffering is it actually causing residents across the country?

Lauren Grimes
Lauren Grimes

Jun 28, 2021

Fuel Poverty is a long-standing cause for concern among providers. The extent of the impact that cold or inadequately heated homes can have on a person’s health and wellbeing has been under discussion for a long-time, with medical professionals, government officials, and housing providers eager to understand the true extent of harm caused by Fuel Poverty. But with those in positions of power often being far-removed from the issue, they are too often unaware of the full extent of harm fuel poverty inflicts on already vulnerable tenants, which can lead to a dangerous oversight.

Research shows that Fuel Poverty often works in a cycle — making it difficult or, in some cases, impossible for residents to improve their situation without external support through funding or reduced energy bills. Those on the poverty line are unable to save or to invest in solutions, meaning that often they are forced to choose between living essentials, with some having to choose between feeding themselves or heating their homes. For those just about managing, fuel poverty can prove particularly difficult to escape. This then takes its toll on a resident’s health by increasing stress levels and making them more susceptible to adverse health conditions which adds to their overall costs and puts more pressure on the resident. And on it goes, leaving vulnerable residents feeling isolated and without hope.

One area that is often underestimated is the effect that Fuel Poverty has on family life. For example, young people living in inadequate housing were found to be much more likely to skip school, especially if those children came from a home that was poorly heated. Now while some of this behaviour is to be expected from children and young people, research shows that the increased pressures Fuel Poverty puts on young people can greatly impact their learning and leave them less prepared for adult life. Inadequately heated homes can impact upon concentration levels, making it difficult for children to focus on their studies which can negatively affect their grades and leaves them at a disadvantage when compared to their peers who are living within warm homes.

Living in Fuel Poverty can also greatly impact a person’s health. Cold homes are associated with a range of adverse health risks, with research showing that a cold home can exacerbate existing health conditions, including asthma, diabetes, and slow recovery rates following hospital discharge. The most vulnerable tenants, such as elderly and disabled residents bear the brunt of the harm, with figures from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) estimating that deaths related to cold homes cost the NHS £1.36bn a year, excluding costs related to social care services. Cold homes also have a devastating effect on residents’ mental wellbeing. Studies carried out by Warm Front show that for resident’s living in inadequately heated homes, the risk of developing conditions such as depression or anxiety increase dramatically. With this in mind, it is no wonder that housing providers are eager to ensure proper heating is accessible to all their tenants, regardless of their economic situation.

But what can be done to minimise these risks?

The use of technology has been beneficial in minimising the harm caused by Fuel Poverty, with devices like Switchee’s Smart Thermostat reducing energy bills by up to 17% for residents. Technology can also allow providers to identify any inefficiencies within their homes and gives them the opportunity to implement proactive solutions. This leads to a warmer home and a reduction in energy wastage which can help alleviate financial pressure from tenants living on the poverty line. In analysing the household data of an individual property, considering the average temperature levels and humidity, providers can better understand the internal property conditions and address any inadequacies before they spiral out of control, thereby reducing the harm caused to residents.

Read our guide on eliminating Fuel Poverty in Social Housingfuel-poverty-whitepaper-promo-min

Lauren Grimes

Lauren Thornton-Grimes is Switchee’s PR and Marketing Executive. She has a keen interest in Social housing and is focused on educating the housing industry on solutions to some of it's biggest problems. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Winchester.

Latest Articles

The Monitoring Requirements of PAS 2035

The Monitoring Requirements of PAS 2035

With PAS 2035 released, the requirements for housing providers and their contractors to monitor their retrofit initiatives might come as a ...

How IoT in other industries could revolutionise social housing?

How IoT in other industries could revolutionise social housing?

With IoT flourishing in a host of other industries across the country - what can social housing learn from their deployments for their own ...

Does Fuel Poverty Damage Social Housing Properties?

Does Fuel Poverty Damage Social Housing Properties?

Everyone knows that fuel poverty causes health problems for social housing residents - but is it also damaging the properties they live in ...