By BJ Bjornson
What makes this story from the BBC so sad is the almost certain fact that the situation can only grow worse as heating fuel and other oil products become increasingly dear over the next few decades.
Thousands of people die each year from illnesses linked to fuel poverty, according to an independent report.
. . .
There are 27,000 extra deaths in the UK each winter compared to other times of year, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. The report found most of this was due to cold weather.
. . .
The main cause of these deaths is respiratory and cardiovascular illness brought on by the cold, with lower outdoor and indoor temperatures each accounting for about half the total number of deaths.
Prof Hills then drew on a separate recent report, the Marmot review, which found that more than one-fifth of all additional winter deaths were directly attributable to lower indoor temperatures in homes that, on average, are among the coldest 25% in the country.
From my read of the story, there�s a fair bit of wiggle room in determining just how many of the deaths are directly tied to the inability to afford enough fuel to heat the home, but the overall theory seems quite plausible.
It also reminds me that one of the best ways for most people to cut down on their �carbon footprint� and use energy more efficiently, is related to how well-insulated your house is. It probably goes without saying that the cheapest and most affordable housing are also those with the worst ability to retain heat in the winter (or conversely stay cool in hotter climes). Which means that those most at risk for being unable to pay their heating bills are the very same people who most need the extra heat, and whose bills are more painful than they need be were the buildings they live in built to better standards.
While I�m generally less pessimistic than Ron regarding the world�s transition into a period of decreasing oil production, this is definitely one area where the effects are going to be very painful indeed.