Keeping warm a hardship

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Renters and poorer families are much more likely to say it is hard to keep warm than those who own their own homes or earn more money, Stats NZ said .

Just under one-third (29 percent) of all New Zealand households in 2015/16 reported that they experienced some energy hardship. Energy hardship means people struggle to afford their power bills, or spend a larger part of their income on power, or often feel cold. This energy hardship figure is based on a variety of indicators developed from the Household Economic Survey (HES).

Energy hardship was much more common for households with lower incomes. Around two-thirds of low-income households experienced one or more energy hardship indicators. Low-income households were also three times more likely than all households to have three or more energy hardship indicators (9 percent compared with 3 percent of all households). Low-income households are the lowest 20 percent of households once income is adjusted by the number of people in the household.

The data showed that renters are more likely to experience energy hardship, with 44 percent of renting households reporting at least one energy hardship indicator compared with 22 percent of households who owned their own home.


We have developed a series of energy hardship indicators from the data available in the HES. Energy hardship indicators include things like being unable to pay power bills on time because of a shortage of money, putting up with feeling cold a lot, having major problems heating the home, and spending a large proportion of after-housing income on energy.

There has been growing concern about the health and well-being impacts of living in a cold, damp home, especially for infants and retired people. Investigating different measures of energy hardship in New Zealand outlines the indicators we have developed to measure energy hardship in a way that is comparable over time and internationally. It also looks at the characteristics of households and people who are experiencing energy hardship.

Source: Stats NZ

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