As the weather turned really cold for the first time last month the UK government published its latest piece of research into fuel poverty (energy poverty) – a report on the behaviours and attitudes of the fuel poor. The research report contains some interesting if not wholly new insights into the experience of fuel poverty, situational trends within the group and coping strategies. The researchers interviewed households across a number of inner urban areas, some of who were deemed to have a high likelihood of fuel poverty and others deemed to have a low likelihood. It covered issues around heating the home, bills and paying for energy, accessing advice and energy saving measures. A number of statistically significant trends between the two groups emerged but the strong trends that struck me were: those with a higher likelihood of fuel poverty are less likely to use central heating in the home and if they do they are less likely to have adequate controls; they are notably more likely to be using pre-payment which in some cases is reported to be preferred as a method of managing fuel expenditure and avoid unexpected bills (which highlights the potential for smart meters, but only with really user friendly user displays, to help this group move from expensive pre-payment tariffs but maintain control of their expenditure); and they were significantly less likely to have installed the main energy efficiency measures due in part to the fact a much higher proportion of the high risk group lives in private rented sector.
SPRU 29th Jan 2018 read more »