Understanding Energy Poverty

In 2022, Saint Vincent de Paul commissioned Interactions Research to explore the incidence of energy hardship in the country, North and Republic, and attitudes to the main support channels available.

The study’s definition of energy hardship is as follows:

  • Warmth – For financial reasons, you could not keep the household adequately warm.
  • Heating – The household had to go without heating due to a lack of money.
  • Arrears – Unable to pay utility bills (heating, electricity, gas) on time due to financial difficulties.

What we found: Just over a quarter of the survey sample said that at least one of the criteria for energy hardship described their household; in addition, over a half said that they had reduced essential spending and, as a result, were unable to keep warm in their own house.

Analysis results highlighted that indicators of experiencing energy hardships could be seen across the country regardless of gender and houses with or without children. However, the results show a noticeable increase in the likelihood of energy-related hardship for individuals under 35 years, those who are the sole decision-maker in their household, those living in rented accommodation, and those subscribed to prepay electricity and/or gas.

Looking further at the data, we can see the effect of rising energy bills on the average Irish household. Two-thirds of adults in all of Ireland said they had cut non-essential spending to pay for utility bills in the past 12 months. And, looking towards the next 12 months, just over a third of those surveyed say they will likely have to do without heating or electricity in the coming year.

If you wish to explore our findings in more detail and read first-hand quotes from the participants concerning their supports and struggles, feel free to click here

This research was conducted on behalf of SVP and funded by SSE Airtricity

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