A household is said to be in fuel poverty when its members cannot afford to keep adequately warm at reasonable cost, given their income. The term is mainly used in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand, although discussions on fuel poverty are increasing across Europe, and the concept also applies everywhere in the world where poverty may be present.
In the UK, fuel poverty is said to occur when in order to heat its home to an adequate standard of warmth a household needs to spend more than 10% of its income to maintain an adequate heating regime (definitions of "income" and "adequate heating regime" vary between UK Government and Devolved Administrations.) In Eastern Europe (transition economies) the term energy poverty is sometimes used instead. However this use of the term (which is about a lack of access to energy services due to economic poverty) can be confused with indicating a lack of any access to energy infrastructure, as has been used by the World Economic Forum when establishing its Energy Poverty Action (EPA) initiative in 2005 to address energy poverty in the developing world by implementing electrification schemes (grid-extension and off-grid).
Causes of fuel poverty 
Fuel poverty is caused by a convergence of four factors:
- low income, which is often linked to absolute poverty
- high fuel prices, including the use of relatively expensive fuel sources (such as electricity in the UK, aggravated by higher tariffs for low-volume energy users)
- poor energy efficiency of a home, e.g. through low levels of insulation and old or inefficient heating systems
- under-occupancy: according to UK government statistics, on average those in the most extreme fuel poverty live in larger than average homes
- old age.
The sharp rise in fuel prices from 2006-8 has led to an estimated doubling of the numbers in fuel poverty in countries where it is a major problem.
United Kingdom 
In early 2008 it was estimated by Energywatch that there were around 4.4 million households in fuel poverty in the UK, with just over 3 million in England alone: this was more than double the number in 2003.
See also 
- National Energy Action (NEA)
- EU Fuel Poverty Network http://www.fuelpoverty.eu
- Scottish Government. "Summary UK Fuel Poverty". Retrieved 2011-09-29.
- Buzar, S. Energy Poverty in Eastern Europe: Hidden Geographies of Deprivation. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007.
- "Energy Poverty Action "Delivering business expertise and best practices to reducing energy poverty"". Retrieved 2008-05-09.
- Holtzclaw, B (April/June 2004). "Shivering in Acutely Ill Vulnerable Populations". AACN Clinical Issues: Advanced Practice in Acute and Critical Care 15 (2): 267–279
- Tim Webb (The Observer) (2008-01-20). "Fury as fuel poverty soars close to a 10-year record". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2008-05-09.
- 6.3 million or almost a quarter of all households are now in fuel poverty uSwitch, published 2011-07-06, accessed 2011-07-11
- Bills 'cost 27% of household income' Vanquis Money Management News, 16 November 2011