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Future Directions for Fuel Poverty Research: A Delphi Study

University of Salford
Date: 2019


This research was commissioned as part of the Eaga Charitable Trust Archive and Legacy project as a way of the Trust leaving a 

The goal of this study was to help provide an informed evidence-based agenda for fuel poverty research to support scholarship over the next decade. In doing so, the authors chose to employ the Delphi approach in order to provide a structured method for capturing new ideas in a ‘safe’ space and consolidating them. This approach is typically used in emerging fields of research. Although this does not apply to fuel poverty per se, as discussed above, the authors point to movements to begin to re-conceptualise the issue as a global challenge and one that pertains not only to heating, but also to cooling and energy uses not directly related to comfort. This has led to a lively discussion about parameters, boundaries and terminology.


This study has attempted to identify and explore current directions of fuel poverty research, evidence gaps, areas of disagreement, and identify challenges for the future.  It has done this by engaging with a large audience of academics, researchers, practitioners and policy actors who are in some way engaged with fuel poverty research. Although our work was grounded in the views of people working predominantly, but not exclusively, within a UK context, our findings have relevance to those working in other settings as well. In undertaking this study, our goal was to help provide an informed evidence-based agenda for fuel poverty research to support scholarship over the next decade. By employing a Delphi methodology, we have systematically distilled a number of key areas of work that could provide a focus for research to be designed and commissioned that:

  • embraces the internationalisation of fuel poverty research;
  • broadens fuel poverty to include cooling and non-comfort energy services;
  • is grounded in visible spatial contexts;
  • is situated in the lived experience of fuel poverty;
  • ensures fuel poverty features as a key factor of just transitions in measures taken to mitigate and adapt to climate change;
  • takes into account the structural inequalities that cause and drive fuel poverty;
  • continues to investigate the health impacts of fuel poverty and highlight the need for joined-up health–housing–welfare interventions;
  • develops strategic and ethical partnerships with the energy industry;
  • develops a shared vocabulary;
  • enhances learning and knowledge transfer between research, policy and practice.

The responses suggest that a strategic focus on these areas of work will transform the future of fuel poverty research over the next decade. It is hoped that researchers, research funders and commissioners, governments and other key actors can draw on this work to develop co-ordinated plans to support work in these areas over the coming years. 

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