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Encyclopedia > Fuel poverty

A fuel poor household is one which cannot afford to keep adequately warm at reasonable cost.


Fuel poverty is said to occur when a household needs to spend more than 10% of its income on fuel use in order to heat the home to an adequate standard of warmth. The definition of fuel poverty does not take account of the amount that a household actually spends on fuel costs, nor the amount available for the household to spend on fuel after other costs have been met. World map showing Life expectancy. ...

Adequate warmth is generally defined to be 21°C in the main living room and 18°C in other occupied rooms, following the recommendations of the World Health Organization. However, there are a variety of different ways of considering household income when measuring fuel poverty. Flag of World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations, acting as a coordinating authority on international public health, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. ...

United Kingdom

The UK Government’s preferred definition of household income includes income from housing-related benefits in the calculation of household income. Other estimates of the extent of fuel poverty exclude benefits from household income. The National Energy Action organisation regards both these definitions as unacceptable and believes that disposable income (after the deduction of housing costs) should be used in the definition of fuel poverty. National Energy Action (NEA) is a UK charity that combats the heating and insulation problems of low-income households by encouraging the use of energy efficiency services. ...

Under the Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Act 2006 the Government is obliged to report annual progress in cutting the number of households in which one or more persons are living in fuel poverty.


  • Chapter 1 the causes and effects of fuel poverty, The UK Fuel Poverty Strategy (2001), DTI
  • National Energy Action: Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency



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