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A Review of the Literature on Fuel Poverty with a Focus on Ireland

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Abstract

Fuel poverty has become a more prescient issue in recent years, both due to harsher winters and the economic downturn, which has made heating the home more difficult for many. Fuel poverty is sensitive to energy prices and also has a capital component linked to the energy efficiency of the home and its appliances. In 2013, 16 % of Irish individuals were recorded as being deprived of heating in the previous year, while 10 % were recorded as being unable to keep the home adequately warm. The data shows that fuel poverty has increased markedly since 2009. In this article, we review the literature on fuel poverty including the definition and measurement of fuel poverty, as well as the impacts on health and well-being. We also examine current policy initiatives aimed at alleviating fuel poverty and this is undertaken with a special focus on Ireland.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    http://www.cso.ie/en/silc/aboutthesilc/.

  2. 2.

    http://www.cso.ie/en/media/csoie/eusilc/documents/SILCmanual2013.pdf.

  3. 3.

    http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/er/silc/surveyonincomeandlivingconditions2013/#.VaE8_MZVhHx.

  4. 4.

    The percentages for 2008 and 2011 are lower than the percentages presented in Scott et al. (2008) and DCENR (2011) using the expenditure approach.

  5. 5.

    http://www.cso.ie/multiquicktables/quickTables.aspx?id=lrm03_lra03.

  6. 6.

    National Action Plan for Social Inclusion, 2007–2016. Government Publications Office Dublin, February 2007, or via: http://www.socialinclusion.ie/documents/NAPinclusionReportPDF.pdf.

  7. 7.

    Delivery a Sustainable Energy Future for Ireland—Energy Policy Framework 2007–2020. Government White Paper. Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. See: www.dcenr.gov.ie.

  8. 8.

    Maximising Ireland’s Energy Efficiency—National Energy Efficiency Action Plan, 2009–2020. Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. May 2009. See: www.dcenr.gov.ie.

  9. 9.

    Ibid. Page 75.

  10. 10.

    http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/NR/rdonlyres/53F3AC25-22F8-4E94-AB73-352F417971D7/0/AffordableEnergyStrategyFINAL.pdf.

  11. 11.

    Further details on the National Fuel Allowance scheme, including eligibility criteria, can be found at: http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/820_National-Fuel-Scheme.aspx.

  12. 12.

    Towards a New Affordable Energy Strategy for Ireland, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, January 2015. http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/NR/rdonlyres/1045379C-F07C-4D78-BFE1-7674FA3AFF67/0/AffordableEnergyConsultationPaper.pdf.

  13. 13.

    Ibid.

  14. 14.

    Ibid.

  15. 15.

    Ibid.

  16. 16.

    The Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) Scheme came into operation on 1 July 1977. It was introduced to replace the home assistance service for persons whose means are insufficient to meet their needs and those of their dependants. SWA can consist of a basic payment and/or a supplement in respect of certain expenses a person may not be able to meet. In order to qualify for a heating supplement the claimant must live alone or only with a qualified adult or child/children and must have exceptional heating needs due to ill-health or infirmity. See: http://www.welfare.ie/EN/OperationalGuidelines/pages/swa.aspx.

  17. 17.

    For the upgrades to be eligible for the grant, certain standards must be met. For example, it is necessary for any upgraded boiler to be of at least 90 % efficiency. In addition, landlords and owners of multiple properties may also apply, however they must submit a separate application form for each property. A SEAI-registered/approved contractor must complete works.

  18. 18.

    http://www.seai.ie/Grants/Better_energy_homes/Better-Energy-Homes-Leaflet-2015.pdf.

  19. 19.

    Towards a New Affordable Energy Strategy for Ireland, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, January 2015. http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/NR/rdonlyres/1045379C-F07C-4D78-BFE1-7674FA3AFF67/0/AffordableEnergyConsultationPaper.pdf.

  20. 20.

    http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/housing/housing_grants_and_schemes/housing_aid_for_older_persons_scheme.html.

  21. 21.

    Towards a New Affordable Energy Strategy for Ireland, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, January 2015. http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/NR/rdonlyres/1045379C-F07C-4D78-BFE1-7674FA3AFF67/0/AffordableEnergyConsultationPaper.pdf.

  22. 22.

    http://www.environ.ie/en/DevelopmentHousing/Housing/News/MainBody,35756,en.htm.

  23. 23.

    http://www.environ.ie/en/DevelopmentHousing/Housing/SocialHousingSupport/CentralHeatingProgramme/.

References

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  3. Boardman, B. (1991). Fuel poverty: From cold homes to affordable Warmth. London: Bellhaven Press.

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  5. Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE) (2014). Alleviating fuel poverty in the EU. http://bpie.eu/uploads/lib/document/attachment/60/BPIE_Fuel_Poverty_May2014.pdf.

  6. Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) (2011). Warmer homes: A strategy for affordable energy in Ireland. http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/NR/rdonlyres/53F3AC25-22F8-4E94-AB73-352F417971D7/0/AffordableEnergyStrategyFINAL.pdf.

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  14. Institute for Public Health in Ireland (IPH). (2009). Annual update on fuel poverty and health 2009 http://www.publichealth.ie/files/file/Annual%20Update%20on%20Fuel%20Poverty%20and%20Health%202009.pdf.

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  16. McAvoy, H. (2007). All Ireland poverty paper on fuel poverty The Institute of Public Health in Ireland. http://lenus.ie/hse/bitstream/10147/45784/1/9138.pdf.

  17. Romero-Ortuno, R., Tempany, M., Dennis, L., O’Riordan, D., & Silke, B. (2013). Deprivation in cold weather increases the risk of hospital admission with hypothermia in older people. Irish Journal of Medical Science, 182, 513–518.

  18. Scott, S., Lyons, S., Keane, C., McCarthy, D., & Tol, R. J. (2008). ‘Fuel poverty in Ireland: Extent, affected groups and policy issues’ working paper 262, Dublin: Economic and Social Research Institute. https://www.esri.ie/UserFiles/publications/20081110114951/WP262.pdf.

  19. Watson, D., & Maître, B. (2015). ‘Is fuel poverty in Ireland a distinct type of deprivation?’ Economic and Social Review, 46(2), 267–291.

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Correspondence to Graeme O’Meara.

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O’Meara, G. A Review of the Literature on Fuel Poverty with a Focus on Ireland. Soc Indic Res 128, 285–303 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-015-1031-5

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Keywords

  • Fuel poverty
  • Health
  • Welfare
  • Public policy