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N Z Med J. 2013 Mar 15;126(1371):71-81.

Kids in the cold: outcomes for New Zealand households with children using prepayment metering for electricity.

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  • 1Department of Public Health, University of Otago - Wellington, PO Box 7343, Wellington 6242, New Zealand.



Although fuel poverty is becoming increasingly researched, there is very limited information currently available on the experiences of and effects on children living in fuel poverty. This paper examines the consequences of using prepayment metering, a payment method typically used by low-income households, on households with children.


We present new results from two postal survey datasets, the Electricity Prepayment Meter Users' Survey undertaken in late 2010 and the follow-up survey undertaken in 2011, which explore the outcomes of prepayment metering and living on low-incomes for households with children.


Among prepayment consumers, households with children experience greater levels of hardship. Households with children were statistically significantly more likely to cut back on grocery spending, and indicated greater levels of financial difficulty than childless households. Although there were no differences between the groups for most indicators of poor thermal comfort levels, households with children were statistically significantly more likely to report seeing their breath condensing indoors on at least one occasion during the winter.


Policies to address fuel poverty should include protections for prepayment meter consumers, and households with children using this payment method who are especially vulnerable.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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