Fuel Poverty Looms for More
With the news of another steep hike in gas prices (domestic bills hitting £1000 pa), fuel poverty rates are going to shoot up. Fuel poverty is when you have to spend more than 10% of your disposable income on heating & lighting. So you could very well have to balance your food bill against your heating costs. Fuel poverty tends to hit the elderly, who are obviously more susceptible to the cold and related illnesses. Most people in fuel poverty are in poorly insulated homes, so they can be helped by improving the building fabric - the sort of work done by the Government funded Warm Zone programme.
But overall, it is wise to remember that, while high fuel costs help drive down consumption (driving is down this year), they hit the vulnerable hardest. I have often heard people say "Oh, everyone can turn down their thermostat 1°C" - that sort of insensitivity gives environmentalists a bad name.