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Tackling poor health in older people resulting from cold homes

Cold homes are linked to poorer health for older people. Whilst inadequately heated homes will likely impact everyone in some way, some populations are at particular risk of poor health, such as people with respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.

We also know that low indoor temperatures are linked to excess winter deaths. The risks associated with cold homes are now greater than ever. Rising costs of fuel will push more people than ever into fuel poverty, whilst climate change is creating unstable and harsh weather conditions.

Action is needed to ensure homes are sufficiently heated for older people. Interventions include those that:

  • Make structural changes to homes and heating systems (e.g. insulation schemes)
  • Supplement financial resources for older people to increase the affordability of heating (e.g. the winter fuel payment)
  • Focus on behavioural changes around heating homes (e.g. using energy more efficiently)

We will use a rapid review to summarise evidence about all three types of interventions. Our work thus focuses on approaches that aim to improve housing temperatures and heating, and considers the impact this has on health.

To maximise the utility of this work to policymakers, we will consider interventions targeted at all adult populations (i.e. not just older people). This is because a) interventions may be transferable to older populations and b) any observable benefits may be shareable between generations (e.g. in intergenerational households).


 This research aims to:

  • Identify which of the interventions aiming to improve home temperatures benefit which health outcomes
  • Summarise evidence of cost-effectiveness
  • Summarise the content of effective interventions
  • Identify areas of low quality or absent evidence using an intervention/outcome evidence map


Rapid review methods will be used to achieve a timely summary of evidence. We will look for evidence from randomised and non-randomised study designs, from both peer-reviewed and grey literature.

A summary narrative synthesis will be produced to identify which interventions most likely benefit which health outcomes. We will produce a map to visualise concentrations and gaps in evidence by interventions and outcomes.

Policy Relevance

This project addresses core policy areas related to healthy ageing: extending healthy life expectancy, taking action to reduce excess winter deaths, and tackling key determinants of health, including for the most vulnerable populations.

Delivery dates

June – October 2023

Associated publications and resources

  • Lazo Green et al (2024) “Interventions for cold homes: a rapid review of the health impacts” (European Journal of Public Health). DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/ckae058


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