The number of Excess Winter Deaths

October 2011: Excerpts from the Hills Fuel Poverty Report on the number of Excess Winter Deaths (EWD) arising as a result of fuel poverty.
[page 3]
Living in cold homes has a series of effects on illness and mental health. But the most serious is its contribution to Britain’s unusually high rates of ‘excess winter deaths’. There are many contributors to this problem, but even if only a tenth of them are due directly to fuel poverty, that means that 2,700 people in England and Wales are dying each year as a result – more than the number killed in traffic accidents.
[page 9]
Most dramatically, the UK has a higher rate of ‘excess winter deaths’ than other countries with colder climates. While the number in England and Wales has fallen from around 40,000 per year in the 1970s to around 27,000 per year in the last decade, this is comparable to more than ten times the number of transport-related deaths in 2009.
[page 71]
Compared to other western European countries, the UK has a high rate of excess winter mortality. From 1988-1997, on average 18 per cent of the UK’s winter deaths were excess, compared to the 10-12 per cent observed in typically colder countries such as Finland, Sweden and Norway
[page 73]
…EWDs appear to be related more to the number of very cold days people are exposed to, rather than the average temperature throughout the winter period. The Eurowinter Group compared two regions with similar average winter temperatures – London and a group of cities in Northern Italy – and observed that from 1988-1992  London experienced over 115 days below 18ºC more than Northern Italy. London also experienced four times as many EWDs on days where the temperature dropped below 18ºC over the same time period. This indicates that despite having similar average winter temperatures, London had a higher number of cold days, and more EWDs for each of those cold days experienced.

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