MORE than a dozen people die from the cold every year because they cannot afford to heat their homes.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said 129 people, some younger than five, have died from hypothermia in the past decade, with 15 in 2011 alone.
The figures come amid criticism of a hike in the cost of coal and peat briquette from tomorrow.
A 40kg bag of coal will increase by €1.20 and a bale of briquettes by 26 cent, after the Government extended the carbon tax to cover solid fuels. The tax will be doubled in 2014.
The Solid Fuel Trade Group, which represents about two-thirds of importers, said the hike could also result in cheaper fuel being smuggled across the border.
"Solid fuel is like the last resort for people because it's pay as you go. For people struggling with larger utility bills, like oil, they choose solid fuel. These are people least likely to afford fuel."