Energy poverty is linked to physical and mental health – our research proves it

(The Conversation, 4 Feb 2022) Britain’s energy regulator Ofgem is set to increase its cap on energy prices by 54% this April 2022. This is in response to the skyrocketing price of gas, aggravated by demand picking up as countries relaxed lockdown measures, low-wind speeds, and bottlenecks in supply chains.

Over the same period, a recent ONS survey found that of the adults who reported a rise in the cost of living, 79% reported energy bills among the relevant causes.

Though the government has announced some policies to mitigate the projected increase, this will still be sombre news for millions of households. The typical prepayment meter user, for instance, who may well be on a lower income, is about to see an increase in they pay from £1,309 to £2,017 per year. A leading national charity recently estimated that the revised energy price cap could push a further 1.5 million households into fuel poverty(that is, not being able to afford to heat their homes in order to sustain a healthy standard of living).

We recently published a study in the journal Energy Economics which shows that fuel poverty can directly and indirectly impact people’s mental and physical health. Our research uses a nationally representative sample of nearly 7,000 participants in the UK Household Longitudinal Study, Understanding Society, to explore the link between fuel poverty, health and wellbeing.

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The Conversation, 4 Feb 2022: Energy poverty is linked to physical and mental health – our research proves it