Fuel Poverty and Health

The link between living in a cold, damp home and the stress of attempting, on a regular basis, to make ends meet and poor health has long been recognised.

A range of research papers have looked into various aspects of this relationship and some initiatives are now aiming to identify workable solutions.

The impact of low indoor temperatures on health was firmly established by the World Health Organisation in 1985. In 1986, K. J. Collins of the UK Medical Research Council published a paper, Low Indoor Temperatures and Morbidity in the Elderly, which established clear links between cold indoor temperatures and health risks to the elderly in the UK.

In a report for Save the Children, Professor Christine Liddell has asserted that every £1 spent reducing fuel poverty saves the NHS 42 pence. The connection between fuel poverty and health is based upon the health implications of living in cold, damp homes. Those who are fuel poor are more likely to turn their heating down below the level adequate for their well-being, and more likely to live in energy inefficient homes which are poorly insulated and prone to dampness.

Getting the Temperature Right

Low indoor temperatures are connected with a number of health issues and most people spend more than 90% of their time indoors. 18-24°C  The comfort zone, no risk to sedentary, healthy people  16°C Increasing risk of respiratory disorders 12°C  Cardiovascular strain, increased blood pressure and viscosity 9°C  Failing thermoregulation and risk of hypothermia, after two […]


Increased Winter Mortality

In most north European countries more people die in the four months from December to March than during the rest of the year. There were 2,060 “excess” deaths in Scotland during the winter of 2018/19. Contributing factors include low income, inefficient heating systems, external temperature fluctuations, and excessive dampness and mould growth associated with poor […]


The Impact of Cold Temperatures on Health

A World Health Organisation Report in 1985 established that there is a link between poor health and low indoor temperatures. Since then further research has strengthened this finding and demonstrated that fuel poverty is today a contributing factor in a number of cold, and poor housing, related health conditions. Professor Christine Liddell reported in 2008 […]


Useful Documents and Resources

Fuel Poverty Library: 25 years of the Eaga Charitable Trust produced in 2019 to document the legacy of Eaga Charitable Trust. There are many health-related research projects which can be found by searching through the database. Addressing Fuel Poverty, Guidance for Directors of Public Health on taking action in support of: A Scotland without fuel […]