Quantifying the severity of fuel poverty, its relationship with poor housing and reasons for non-investment in energy-saving measures in Ireland
Fuel poverty has generally been calculated by quantifying the number of households spending in excess of 10% of income on home heating. This definition has a number of significant practical and scientific limitations. This paper employs self-reported data to calculate the severity of fuel poverty in Ireland to identify chronic fuel-poor households from occasional sufferers. It also assesses domestic energy-efficiency levels. Ireland is a useful case study as it demonstrates the highest variations in seasonal mortality and morbidity in northern Europe, both of which are associated with fuel poverty. Ireland is also experiencing extreme difficulties meeting its environmental emissions targets in light of recent spectacular economic growth. Reducing fuel poverty would lower energy-related emissions, assisting policy makers achieve these challenging targets. Furthermore, little empirical research has been undertaken on fuel poverty in Ireland. This paper identifies key social groups at risk by conducting detailed socio-economic and socio-demographic analyses. The relationship between fuel poverty and adverse housing conditions (damp, condensation) is also examined. Moreover, the reasons behind householders not investing in energy-saving measures are reported. The results show that Ireland suffers from similar levels of fuel poverty as the UK, with low-income households suffering the greatest. The key policy implications are outlined.