University of East Anglia’s new research shows that fuel poverty makes people’s physical and mental health worse.

With the U.S. administration canceling pipelines, cutting of oil and gas property leasing, pressuring finance not to loan or invest has already pressured petroleum products’ pricing way up. Add to that the Russian Federation’s new war in the Ukraine has twisted the international petroleum market into knots. Petroleum fuel products like gasoline, natural gas, propane and the others are much more expensive and could get even more expensive.

The University of East Anglia researchers found that not being able to keep homes warm enough affects people’s levels of life satisfaction. But they also found that it impacts people’s physical health by causing higher levels of inflammation, measured by fibrinogen, a blood-based biomarker.

The research paper, ‘Getting warmer: fuel poverty, objective and subjective health and well-being’ by Apostolos Davillas, Dr. Andrew Burlinson and Dr. Hui-Hsuan Liu – has been published in the journal Energy Economics.

Dr. Apostolos Davillas, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “We know that exposure to cold temperatures is associated with increased blood pressure, inflammation and cardiovascular mortality risks regardless of age or gender. But until now there has been limited research into the mental and physical health impacts of fuel poverty.”

The research team studied data from a nationally representative sample of 6,854 participants involved in Understanding Society, the UK Household Longitudinal Study.

They explored the links between fuel poverty and well being outcomes, such as life-satisfaction and self-reported health measures.

They also studied elevated bloodstream ‘biomarkers’ – telltale markers of infection or inflammation, which are an objective measure of health.

And they were careful to adjust for other confounding factors that could be affecting people’s health such as lifestyle factors, including whether they smoke, eat their five-a-day, or get enough exercise.

Dr. Davillas said, “We looked at those people in the study who experienced high fuel costs as a percentage of their household income or who felt that their home is not warm enough during winter. And we found a causal link between fuel poverty and poorer well being, as well as an increased inflammatory biomarker called fibrinogen.

Dr. Hui-Hsuan Liu, from the Department of Comparative Biomedical Science, Royal Veterinary College, explained, “Fibrinogen helps the body to stop bleeding by promoting blood clotting, but it is also an inflammatory biomarker. Elevated fibrinogen levels have been strongly linked to higher risk of coronary heart disease, heart attacks, stroke and an increased risk of death. This really shows how fuel poverty can really ‘get under the skin’ and impact people’s health.”

Dr. Andrew Burlinson from UEA’s Norwich Business School and the Center for Competition Policy noted these concerns, “This research is very important because the cost of living is rising at the fastest pace for 30 years. The government’s price cap on energy bills is set to be revised in April and the energy industry has warned that fuel bills could increase by another 50 percent in the next few months. Recent figures show that the number of households suffering fuel poverty in England could treble this spring due to the increasing cost of fuel. Fuel poverty is widely acknowledged as a distinct form of income poverty and this study shows that it has far reaching and detrimental implications for health, particularly cardiovascular disease, inflammation and lower well being levels.”

“In light of our findings, the UK government’s recent change to the fuel poverty definition, from Low-Income-High-Cost (LIHC) to the Low-Income-Low Energy Efficiency (LILEE) indicator, needs further consideration. In years to come we will need to adapt our homes to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change. Low-income households suffering fuel poverty will need policies that better support them so that they are not left behind by the transition to greener living,” he added.


Two and a half weeks ago the situation was most notably in the UK and Germany where the “green revolution” has over run practical realities. There the first impacted are those at the lower income levels.

But now the situation is deepening and spreading. Spring is coming and some energy demand for home heating will wither away over the coming weeks – for a few months. Then the demand will rise for energy for home cooling during those months.

We are about to pay a price for the politicizing of electric utilities and the petroleum markets. It may be a dear price indeed. The climate, anti fossil fuel, environment, etc, enthusiasts are “believers” rather than practical realists that have squeaked the wheel and seized the media and political attention.

Perhaps the illnesses and suffering will squeak and gain some traction to seize the media and political attention. Maybe . . . we’ll get back to:

More, Better and Cheaper. Your humble writer has been trying to get there for a over decade and it is just depressing that its seems to have taken human suffering and death in war, to hopefully, set things right.


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