Keeping warm and staying well: findings from the qualitative arm of the Warm Homes Project
This paper presents findings from the qualitative arm of the Warm Homes Project, a programme of research concerned with the nature of fuel poverty, its alleviation and its relationship to family health. Much of the research into fuel poverty, which results from various combinations of low income and fuel inefficiency, has drawn upon quantitative paradigms. Experiences of, and coping with, fuel poverty have not been well explored. Data for the present study were obtained through qualitative interviews with household members about the above issues. The findings suggest that the expectations of those in fuel poverty about staying warm, and their beliefs about the relationship between warmth and health, vary considerably. Fuel poverty often had wider ramifications, impacting on quality of life in complex ways. The respondents took steps to alleviate cold, but their strategies varied. Coping was affected by informational limitations as well as cost constraints. Measures designed to alleviate fuel poverty should take into account its wider social meaning within the lives of household members.