Pay (for it) as you go: Prepaid energy meters and the heat-or-eat dilemma

Andrew Burlinson, Apostolos Davillas, Cherry Law

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The “heat-or-eat” dilemma, a trade-off typically between food consumption and heating, may elevate public health concerns during the 2022 energy-price crisis. Our paper contributes to the literature by exploring the role of domestic energy prepayment meters (PPMs) in the heat-or-eat dilemma, focusing on the association between PPM use and fruit and vegetable consumption. Using a representative sample of 24,811 individuals residing in Great Britain (January 2019–May 2021), we find robust evidence of lower fruit and vegetable consumption amongst individuals using PPMs, compared to those using post-payment energy bill payment methods. On average, our point estimates suggest that individuals using a PPM consume 2.7 fewer portions of fruit and vegetables per week. Our findings hold when bounding analysis is employed to account for omitted variable bias. Using a suite of IV approaches to further alleviate endogeneity concerns we found that our ordinary least squares results are consistent as opposed to IV models. Further robustness analyses highlight the deleterious impact of PPMs on people's healthy eating habits relevant to the consumption of enough fruit and vegetables. Our results suggest that targeted support for PPM users may have beneficial effects on people's fruit and vegetable consumption patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Article number115498
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Volume315
Early online date1 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Nov 2022

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