Fuel poverty, that is to say people who can't afford to heat their homes, is at all time high levels in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. It causes at times a terrible human condition, death, which is estimated as 8,000 people per year in the U.K. There have been calls for immediate "super energy efficiency." No doubt the rest of the world is affected, also.
Heating oil prices in the U.S. are topping $4.11/gal(up), propane $2.90/gal(up), natural gas $10.00/per Thousand Cubic Feet(down), according to the latest from the Feds-EIA. Electricity, at least in the East has shown a gentle decline, due to lower coal prices, warmer winter temperatures, and increased natural gas generation. Nationwide it's $.1152/kwh, up 4% from last year.
Groups of children are feeling the need to respond to this crisis. In Dudley, MA, an elementary school is raising $1,000 per month to give to those in need. Similar efforts in elementary schools across the world are taking place.
In Dunedin, NZ, there's a subsidized insulation program, up to 75%, for families in need. Also, up to a $2,000 grant on heaters. 2700 homes have been involved in upgrades since 2007.
Of course the established help progams, like LIHEAP, are still in place. The administration in the White House has answered high gasoline prices, which presently range $3.50 to 6.25/gal, with a "broad energy policy." That means more drilling, research, and higher MPG for vehicles. Of course there are various energy efficiency provisions in the budget, some of which will survive. Very few homes run on gasoline as a fuel source, except for electrical backup generation.
The burning questions are: what are we doing to help those who are in need now, how will we help them in the future, what are we doing to improve the home energy front with practical and low-buck solutions with immediate payback, and are we starting more assistance programs that can benefit humanity now?
March 2, 2012