Fuel Poverty Mitigation through Energy Efficiency in Buildings

On 25.02.2015 the European Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE), presented a poster entitled: “Tackling energy poverty through energy efficiency of buildings”, which complements the already published report “Reducing energy poverty in Europe”. This poster attempts a concise and easy-to-understand analysis of European data on energy poverty, as well as the main causes and possible solutions and suggestions for tackling it.

First, some definitions and ways of measuring energy poverty are given (it is pointed out that a more accurate definition would help to better assess the extent of the problem and the direction of programmes and policies to the right people). The following is some data on the levels of some energy poverty indicators in European countries.

These indicators are:

  1. The inability to maintain adequate heating in homes,
  2. Late payment of debts to utilities and
  3. The percentage of people living in dwellings with inadequate living conditions (leaks on the roof, moisture on the walls, floors, or foundations).

The data show that the three countries with the highest rates in all indicators are Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Greece, while in Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Luxembourg energy poverty does not seem to be a major problem, as the percentages of the indicators appear quite low. Especially for Greece, the above indicators are 70% for the inability to maintain adequate heating in homes, 50.7% for late payment of debts to utilities and 29.5% for people living in housing with inadequate living conditions. These percentages are much higher than the European averages which are 10.8%, 10% and 15.1% respectively.

The phenomenon of energy poverty in Europe is deteriorating due to the sharp rise in energy prices without a corresponding increase in net household income. At the same time, the amounts spent on implementing energy efficiency measures in buildings, which are the most sustainable energy saving solution, fall far short of energy cost and revenue subsidies, resulting in an almost negligible reduction in energy consumption per home the past years.

Among the solutions proposed at both Community and national level is the gradual increase in financial support for energy renewal measures, as they help to improve the health, productivity, and thermal comfort of vulnerable citizens, create jobs, and reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, there should be a long-term strategy for tackling energy poverty by the European Union itself, as well as updating statistics to make clear the link between living conditions, energy poverty and other indicators.

INZEB is a partner of BPIE.

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