Top tips on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day

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More than one in five households here (22%) are in fuel poverty so this Fuel Poverty Awareness Day (Friday 15 February) the Public Health Agency (PHA) is highlighting energy efficiency tips and services that many people will find useful in tackling the issue.

A household is in fuel poverty if it needs to spend more than 10% of its income on energy costs to adequately heat the home.

Brendan Bonner, Assistant Director for Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement at the PHA, said: “Nearly 160,000 homes here are in fuel poverty, but there are steps that people can take if they find that they have to spend a high proportion of their income on energy. It’s important for everyone to equip themselves with the right tools, and to avail of support to both help reduce the costs of fuel spending in the home and get assistance to save energy.

“There are serious health risks for people living in fuel poverty, as not being able to heat your home properly means cold and damp can contribute to respiratory illnesses, hypothermia and issues affecting vulnerable people who already have underlying health conditions.

“Keeping a room warm to at least 18 degrees, taking regular warm drinks and food, and putting on extra layers such as a blanket, or hat even when indoors, can reduce the risk of hypothermia.

“There is also help out there to offer advice and enable people to ease the burden of energy costs. I would encourage anyone concerned about fuel poverty to contact their local council to find out more about possible support services in their area.”

One example of the work the PHA is supporting on fuel poverty is the HANDIHEAT project which is led by the Housing Executive. It aims to promote practical solutions to rural energy problems and is supported by Northern Periphery & Arctic Programme (NPA) and the European Regional Development Fund.

Brendan continued: “Individuals and communities have a significant role to play in transforming the way we heat our homes and HANDIHEAT will look at innovative solutions to this through its pilot project in Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh which will address energy efficiency and fuel poverty. Through a focus on renewable energy sources it’ll help reduce a reliance on fossil fuels helping to find healthier solutions contributing to a healthier environment. The initiative if aligned to the theme of Creating the Conditions under the Making Life Better Public Health framework for Northern Ireland.”

Top tips for keeping warm at home:

  • wear multiple layers of clothing and a hat and gloves, even indoors if it is cold;
  • heat your main living room to around 18-21ºC (64-70ºF) and the rest of the house to at least 16ºC (61ºF);
  • heat all the rooms you use in the day;
  • if you can’t heat all your rooms, make sure that you keep your living room warm throughout the day;
  • it is important to make sure your heating is safe and that your house is properly ventilated, to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you have electric controls for your heating, set the timer on your heating to come on before you get up and switch off when you go to bed. In very cold weather set the heating to come on earlier, rather than turn the thermostat up, so you won’t be cold while you wait for your home to heat up.

For further info on fuel poverty, visit   

Notes to editors:

  • Statistics from the 2016 Northern Ireland House Condition Survey estimated that approximately 22% (160,000) of households in Northern Ireland are in fuel poverty. This represents a significant improvement in fuel poverty levels since 2011 when the figure was 42% (294,000).
  • The report can be found at
  • Information on Making Life Better can be found at