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Fuel Poverty in New Zealand. 


The concept of fuel poverty emanated from grass roots environmental health movements in the United Kingdom and Ireland in the early 1980s. In recent years it has been taken on board by the British government in as much as they have committed to eradicate it by the middle of this decade. A household is in fuel poverty if it would need to spend more than 10% of the total household income on all household fuels to achieve a satisfactory indoor environment. A satisfactory indoor environment is defined as being at temperatures of at least 21°C in the living areas and 18°C in other parts of the house. The number of households in fuel poverty in the United Kingdom has been variously estimated at somewhere between one million and seven million, with a median acknowledged by the government of around three million in 2001. This number would mean some 14% of the population in the United Kingdom were in fuel poverty at that time. The present paper suggests that in New Zealand the number of households in fuel poverty in 2001, using the same definition of adequate indoor temperatures as for the United Kingdom, is very similar, with a range of between 10% and 14% of total households.