‘‘The walls were so damp and cold’’ fuel poverty and ill health in Northern Ireland: Results from a housing intervention
This article reports the findings from an evaluation of a fuel poverty programme in the Armagh and Dungannon Health Action Zone in Northern Ireland. Focusing on a rural community, it adds to the debate surrounding the hidden nature of rural fuel poverty. As part of the programme, energy efficiency measures, including some central heating systems, were installed in 54 homes. Surveys were conducted both pre and post intervention and analysed to assess any changes. The programme demonstrated that energy efficiency intervention can lead to improvements in health and well being, increased comfort levels in the home and a reduction in the use of health services, therefore having potential cost savings for the NHS. Some households, however, remain in fuel poverty after having full central heating installed, reflecting the significant contribution of low income on the production of fuel poverty. The article concludes by suggesting that interventions in this area require commitment from multiple sectors of society, including health professionals and local communities.