Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Rethink fuel poverty as a complex problem

Fuel poverty is a highly-complex social problem that is currently defined in technical and economic terms that prioritize energy performance measures as solutions. Yet considering the wider societal aspects of the condition demonstrates how adopting dynamic risk-based metrics can drive tailored and holistic folk-first outcomes.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Reconceptualization of fuel poverty.


  1. Bradshaw, J. & Hutton, S. Econ. Psychol. 3, 249–266 (1983).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Boardman, B. From Cold Homes to Affordable Warmth (Belhaven Press, London, New York, 1991).

  3. Hills, J. Getting the measure of Fuel Poverty (Department of Energy and Climate Change, 2012).

  4. Scottish House Condition Survey 2016: Key Findings (Scottish Government, 2017).

  5. Bramley, G., Fitzpatrick, S., Liddell, C. & Webb, J. A New Definition of Fuel Poverty in Scotland: A review of Recent Evidence (Scottish Government, 2017).

  6. Mould, R. & Baker, K. J. Indoor Built Environ. 0, 1–23 (2017).

    Google Scholar 

  7. Baker, K.J., Mould, R. & Restrick, S. Proiseact Spéird – The Spéird Project: Understanding Influences on Fuel Poverty in Rural and Island Scotland (Eaga Charitable Trust, 2016).

  8. Mould, R., Baker, K. J. & Emmanuel, R. Queens Polit. Rev. 2, 7–24 (2014).

    Google Scholar 

  9. Byrne, D. Evaluation 3, 217–228 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Andersson, C. & Törnberg, P. Futures 95, 118–138 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Community Empowerment and Engagement (Scottish Government, 2015).

  12. A Connected Scotland: Tackling Social Isolation and Loneliness and Building Stronger Communities (Scottish Government, 2018).

  13. Mould, R. & Baker, K. J. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 31, 21–31 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Liddell, C. & Guiney, C. Public Health 3, 191–199 (2014).

    Google Scholar 

  15. Walker, R., Liddell, C., McKenzie, P., Morris, C. & Lagdon, S. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 4, 89–99 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Darby, S. Making sense of energy advice. In European Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy Summer Study Proceedings 1217–1226 (eceee, 2003).

  17. The Scottish Fuel Poverty Statement (Scottish Government, 2002).

  18. Fuel Poverty (Welsh Government, 2012).

  19. The Fuel Poverty Strategy (Department for Communities, 2011).

Download references


The research presented here was funded internally by Glasgow Caledonian University, Renfrewshire Council and Energy Action Scotland (Scotland’s national fuel poverty charity). Additional evidence has been drawn from projects funded by the Eaga Charitable Trust, Citizens Advice Scotland and the Scottish Government. Renfrewshire Council operates a number of support services for fuel-poor householders and the analysis of data from these householders underpins much of this research.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Keith J. Baker.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Baker, K.J., Mould, R. & Restrick, S. Rethink fuel poverty as a complex problem. Nat Energy 3, 610–612 (2018).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Further reading


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing