More than half of all Irish adults (56%) have not heated their homes, in full or in part, at some point in the last year due to concerns about the cost. That finding, which comes from an Amarach poll carried out in December of 2021 for the Edmund Burke Institute, was true for all age demographics polled.
That figure rose to 63% amongst women, and 58% amongst those in lower socio-economic groupings. The 35-44 demographic was the most likely of any age demographic to say they had chosen not to heat their home due to cost concerns (58%), with the 55+ demographic being the least likely to say they had chosen not to heat their home due to cost concerns (55%)
The polling also revealed a wide-spread feeling that the Government’s policies were actively going to increase the number of people in Ireland who cannot afford to heat their homes (87%).
Stripping out those who were unsure that figure rises to roughly 95% of the population.
The vast majority of the public (79%) said that the government is not doing enough to ensure a steady supply of affordable energy. Again, stripping out those who were unsure, that figure rises to roughly 95% of the population.
85% of the public said they did not believe that the Government was doing enough to protect the most vulnerable from increases in the price of electricity and heating. That figure rises, if only taking those who had an opinion, to roughly 95%.
Only 9% of those polled said that they thought the current Government had a realistic plan in place to hit their 2030 climate goals.
Gary Kavanagh, Director of the Edmund Burke Institute, had the following to say on the results:
“This polling, by looking at the actions people are taking rather than by merely asking them about how concerned they are about rising costs, gives us some insight into the actual impact that price increases, caused in part by government policies, are having on the quality of life of the population.
This Government has been particularly focused on implementing a host of policies intended to incentivise people to live in a more environmentally sustainable fashion, but it doesn’t appear that the Government fully understands the impact those policies are having, and will increasingly have, on the public’s quality of life. In many regards we are sleepwalking into a situation which pits the public’s quality of life against environmental policies instead of ensuring that the two support each other.
Energy is one of the most fundamental bedrocks of any economy, and policies that increase the cost of energy, or restrict its supply, have wide-ranging impacts on the population in a way that few other policies can. Ensuring that Ireland has a secure, and sustainable, supply of affordable energy is critical if we wish to maintain current standards of living and allow for further economic growth whilst achieving our sustainability goals.
If the Government fails to ensure that its policies allow for, and support, a supply of affordable, and sustainable, energy, living standards will decline, and policies aiming to increase sustainability will lose support amongst the general public. We can already see from the polling that every age demographic has been impacted by increases in the cost of heating and electricity.
There is an extreme lack of faith in the ability of the government to handle this issue, and the vast majority of people believe the Government is making the problem worse. The Government needs to demonstrate that they understand the issues at hand and that their policy choices are designed to improve people’s lives, not make them worse off.
This is of particular importance given that the vast majority of the public do not believe the Government has a realistic plan to achieve its climate goals. A situation in which the public is actively and increasingly hurt by the Government’s policies, whilst believing those policies are not actually going to work, is not a situation conducive to maintaining public support for either the Government or its policies.”