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Modelling a culturally sensitive approach to fuel poverty

Stephen Todd (School of Environment at the University of Salford, Salford, UK)
Andrew Steele (School of Environment at the University of Salford, Salford, UK)

Structural Survey

ISSN: 0263-080X

Article publication date: 1 August 2006




This paper seeks to discuss the need for the development of a more flexible measure of energy efficiency based on an ever increasing multi‐cultural society.


Outlines the reasons for the prevalence of fuel poverty among the BME community, using the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities as case studies. Then considers how culture and tradition among these communities directly impact on their use of their home and how this has implications for Energy Assessment Procedures. Individual cultural issues have traditionally not been modelled in the assessment of Fuel Poverty. These issues include the different use of the dwelling; whereas white householders would generally only use one room as their main living room, it is traditional for those of the BME householder to use two rooms. This is significant in energy usage terms as these rooms are heated to a higher temperature than the rest of the house and therefore affect the amount required to be spent on energy. It is also true that the BME community are likely to spend more on cooking and appliance usage and this should be taken into account to provide an accurate assessment.


This methodology provides a more scientific base for the determination of how hard an individual dwelling is to heat and therefore whether or not an individual household is in fuel poverty.


Evidence has been collected from a number of studies to identify how a BME household utilises space and heating within their dwelling. In order to ascertain fuel poverty these issues have not generally been taken into account, which can lead to inaccurate determinations. However, by the use of BREDEM tools and household knowledge these issues can be assessed accurately.



Todd, S. and Steele, A. (2006), "Modelling a culturally sensitive approach to fuel poverty", Structural Survey, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 300-310.



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