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Energy, the Challenge of Fuel Poverty, and Wellbeing: A Case Study of 18 Low-income Households

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This bulletin presents findings about fuel-related stress in very low-income households living in dwellings less than 12 years old that meet the current energy and thermal performance requirements of the New Zealand Building Code.

A household’s ability to affordably heat and cool the home, as well as maintain other essential energy services, such as hot water, lighting and appliances, has significant implications for individual physical and mental health and wellbeing. In addition to often experiencing financial stress, low-income households tend to be characterised by health vulnerabilities and sometimes the presence of seniors or babies and children. The very young and the old, as well as disabled people, are particularly susceptible to cold or excessively hot housing environments. Internationally, it is well established that social housing residents proportionally pay more of their household income on energy, yet they are least able to afford it, and have little ability to make changes to improve energy efficacy. It is in the context of problematic stock performance and financial stress among lower income households, that the concern about household fuel poverty has arisen.

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