Housing and Health – Why tackling cold homes is a public health issue
Older man on sofa in blanket

High energy bills this winter have focused attention on the difficulties of heating homes adequately. But for many older people the challenges of keeping warm go beyond the immediate worry of staying comfortably warm or paying the next heating bill – cold homes can pose a grave threat to health. 

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) calculates that excess winter mortality accounts for almost 1,000 deaths in NI each year[1]. While COVID-19 complicates the more recent picture, data going back over the last 20 years shows that respiratory disease, circulatory disease, and dementia are the main causes of these excess winter deaths in Northern Ireland. 

Central Statistics Office (CSO) data for Ireland also show higher mortality in winter months, usually peaking in January[2]. A HSE / Energy Action Ireland study indicated that there were over 8,500 excess winter deaths from all causes in the six-year period from 2007-2012 and that dementia deaths in Ireland in winter were 26% higher than in summer.

Latest resources

30 Jan, 2024 -   In this blog, Louise O’Connor, a senior research assistant at the Institute of Public Health, discusses what measures could be introduced to decrease the appeal of nicotine inhaling products to…
25 Jan, 2024 - Chief Executive of the Institute of Public Health Suzanne Costello has been elected to serve as President of EuroHealthNet, the European Partnership for health, equity and wellbeing.  Suzanne…
19 Jan, 2024 - Earlier this month the Institute responded to a public consultation by the Department of Health in Ireland to inform the future regulation of tobacco and nicotine inhaling products, such as e-…