Energy And The Individual

What is Fuel Poverty?

Fuel Poverty is when a household has to spend 10% or more of its income on energy to maintain acceptable levels of warmth

This is considered to be a temperature of 21oC- 23oC in the main living area of a home and 18oC in other areas.

Fuel poverty is influenced by three key factors – the cost of fuel, the income of the household and the energy efficiency of the home.

Policies and programmes designed to tackle fuel poverty aim to help fuel poor households achieve “affordable warmth”, where acceptable levels of heating and normal appliance use cost less than 10% of household income.

Definition of Fuel Poverty

The Government defines fuel poverty as the need to spend more than 10% of household income to achieve adequate levels of warmth in the home and meet their other energy needs. Adequate warmth is defined as 21oC/23oC in the main living areas and 18oC in other areas.

‘Affordable warmth’ is often regarded as the reverse of fuel poverty, i.e. it describes the situation in which households do not need to spend more than 10% of income to achieve adequate warmth. However, the affordability of running appliances is also an important consideration. This is because appliances account for a growing proportion of households’ energy budgets and because low income households tend to use older and more inefficient appliances.

Causes of Fuel Poverty

  • Low household income – the cost of heating a home accounts for a bigger proportion of total income for those on benefits or low wages
  • Energy efficiency – the quality of the building and its insulation and the efficiency of the heat source affect how much energy must be bought to heat a home adequately
  • Fuel costs

Other factors that contribute to fuel poverty are:

  • Under occupation – when people on low incomes live in properties that are bigger than they need, for example, an older person who lives alone in a house that was once a family home
  • Appliance use – households use more appliances than they did 20 years ago. Low-income families are more likely to use older, less efficient appliances that have higher running costs

Energy and the Individual (training course)


National Unit Specification: general information UNIT Energy and the Individual (Intermediate 2)

COURSE Energy (Intermediate 2)


This is an optional Unit of the Intermediate 2 Skills for Work Energy Course. This Unit can also be taken as a stand-alone Unit.

Candidates will investigate the energy they use annually. This will include producing their own Carbon Footprint, where candidates will use Energy and CO2 calculators to gauge what impact they are having on the environment. Using the data gained they will review and evaluate their lifestyles to try and reduce the energy they consume and thereby reduce the size of their carbon footprint.

This Unit has been designed with secondary school candidates in mind but is also suitable for a wide range of candidate groups.


  1. Investigate and determine own energy consumption in accordance with a given brief.
  2. Investigate changes to lifestyle that will reduce own energy consumption in accordance with agiven brief.
  3. Present findings on own energy consumption according to a given brief.

For more information on this course please visit:

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