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Conclusion

In this paper we have looked at a range of fuel poverty indicators used overseas and in New Zealand, and the reasons that energy hardship / fuel poverty should be considered separately from other types of hardship. Energy hardship occurs as a result of poor-quality housing, inefficient heating and ventilation, as well as inadequate incomes. While it is not possible to replicate the official United Kingdom measure, we can provide some useful information about energy hardship using the Household Economic Survey and the Census of Population and Dwellings. The General Social Survey also contains some information on housing quality, and the 2018 supplement on housing and physical environment should allow us to gain a deeper understanding of energy hardship in New Zealand.

We can look at energy hardship in the census but the information is limited to households with no heating. The addition of housing quality measures in the census would enable a more comprehensive picture of energy hardship to be created. The census is useful for looking at this issue for small areas and small populations, as HES has limited regional breakdowns due to its small sample size.

There is considerable evidence to suggest that energy hardship can have detrimental outcomes. We know, for example, that cold and damp housing is associated with poor physical and mental outcomes. Therefore, a better understanding of energy hardship will help identify those households and people who are at most risk of experiencing these negative outcomes and enable more effective targeting of resources.

These indicators, when combined with data on the energy efficiency of dwellings, would enable better measurement of energy hardship in New Zealand and allow us to measure changes over time.

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