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The impact of energy poverty on health

Energy poverty means a greater risk of cardiovascular and respiratory mortality, as well as more mental health problems. The Spanish Society of Epidemiology warns.

The constant increase of price of energy and the consequences of social and climate crisis have shown that energy poverty is quite a problem for Europe and, even more so, for Spain.

The figures are enlightening: in Spanish territory, until 14.2% of households are affected by this social problem, well above the average of the European unionlocated in a 6.9%.

That is?

Energy poverty is defined by the inability of certain households to reach a level of domestic consumption of energy to meet the needs of the home and to lead an effective social life.

What consequences does it have on our body?

In our country, people who cannot afford to keep at an adequate temperature during the colder months have twice as much poor self-perceived health i depression than people who do not suffer from energy poverty.

What’s more, people who have been late at least once in paying their energy bills in the last twelve months suffer up to three times more depression problems than those who can pay their bills.

Impact on health

How do epidemiologists summarize the direct ravages of energy poverty?

Those who suffer from energy poverty…

  • they have higher risk of mortality by diseases cardiovascular i respiratory
  • They are more prone to suffering mental health problems
    • how anxiety, depression and stress.
  • Others get worse chronic diseases like arthritis
  • They increase the possibility of suffer from flu and colds.

Less secure energy sources

It is clear that faced with this situation, and to alleviate the lack of energy at home, some may be forced to use less reliable sources and, in the most extreme cases, when access to energy is not guaranteed, a connect irregularly to the network.

This, in the same way, can have consequences on our health, such as the risk of accidents associated with burns or inhalation of carbon monoxide.

Day-to-day limitation

In addition to the repercussions on health, the Spanish Society of Epidemiology remember that energy poverty has a strong impact on day-to-day activitieshow:

  • The study
  • the leisure
  • the cures
  • The job

Everything leads in many cases to the stigmatization or reduction of social interaction of those affected

Who suffers more?

the seniors and the under two years of age they are particularly sensitive to temperatures, both cold and warm, in homes.

older people, energy poverty, loneliness
EFE/Raquel Manzanares

Also in the case of those who suffer from some chronic diseases or have reduced mobilitysince they are groups that often spend more time at home and are more exposed to energy poverty.

Depending on the social classes

Furthermore, this greater physiological susceptibility frequently coincides with a greater social vulnerability. And it is that energy poverty often coexists with others conditioning how:

  • Job insecurity
  • Alimentary
  • Residential

In fact, people with greater energy difficulties are:

  • Most disadvantaged social classes
  • Migrant people
  • Single-parent families
  • Older women who live alone
  • People who live from rent at market price.

Is there a solution to energy poverty?

To end energy poverty, the Spanish Society of Epidemiology insists that it is necessary to take structural, forceful measures based on scientific evidence and equity in order to guarantee the right to energy to all citizens.

They advocate for the implementation of measures that ease the suffering of the affected people. An example is:

  • Social voucher for electricity or social voucher for energy justice: positive measures though temporary e insufficient for the maximum limits of subsidized consumption.
  • Rehabilitate old buildings and homes to make them more efficient.
  • Identification of this social problem in Primary Care, educational centers, etc. to put protocols in place to address them.

“Energy services should not be understood as a commodity, but as a basic good for people. They are essential for life, health and well-being”, conclude the epidemiologists.

Why contemplate this one social problem from equity brings a new perspective.

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