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Estimating fuel poverty at household level: An integrated approach


Fuel poverty occurs when households are unable to heat their home to adequate standards at reasonable cost. Affordable warmth schemes commonly aim to improve the energy efficiency of housing, which makes home heating more affordable. Authorities require identification tools, ideally at household-level, in order to implement these schemes effectively. This study develops a household-level fuel poverty indicator by integrating data from a large household survey (N = 1595) with other datasets (including GIS) within a reduced data framework. The model is based on the UK's Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP), but makes several adjustments to account for household size, electricity consumption, occupancy patterns and up-to-date, local fuel prices. Predicted SAP ratings, calculated by a standardised version of the model, correlate well with empirical measurements. The ‘household-based’ metric developed in this study is argued to provide more realistic estimates of energy costs. Fuel poverty is prevalent amongst the households in this study, although a severity classification shows that not all households experience fuel poverty in equal measure. This study provides several important insights for affordable warmth policies across Europe, including the efficacy of area-based targeting tools. A two-part approach, combining area- and household-level targeting, may yield the most effective results.