Page 6 - European Energy Innovation - Autumn 2014
P. 6
utumn 2014 European Energy Innovation

Alleviating fuel poverty in Europe

By the Buildings Performance Institute Europe (BPIE)

Between 50 and 125 analyses show that it is linked important economic and social
million Europeans are with financial vulnerability as they issue; it has severe health impacts
affected by fuel poverty, share the same drivers. Among as supported by many medical
with high numbers in the main causes of fuel poverty studies. Consequences are excess
Central and Eastern EU countries are low household income, winter deaths, mental disability,
such as Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, high energy costs and the poor respiratory and circulatory
Lithuania, and Hungary. The energy efficiency state of the problems. Excess winter deaths
European population is ageing, home. In terms of indicators (EWD) are defined as the
consequently increasing the used to describe and measure difference between the number
number of vulnerable people. fuel poverty, several have been of deaths which occurred in
To add, between 2010 and 2012 identified: the inability to keep winter (December to March) and
the employment rate in the EU a home adequately warm; the the average number of deaths
remained stagnant at 68.4%. presence of a leaking roof, damp during the preceding four months
walls, floors or foundation, or a and the subsequent four months.
Since the economic crisis rot in window frames or floor; as Their number is increasingly
and the increase of energy well as arrears in utility bills. In worrisome as between 30%
prices affecting all European 2012, 10.8% of the total European and 50% are actually attributed
households, fuel poverty has population were unable to to poor housing conditions.
been steadily pushed higher up keep their home adequately Moreover, EWD is not a problem
on the European political agenda. warm, increasing to 24.4% when characteristic only to northern
It is not only a major problem referring to low-income people. European countries, but it also
for the so called ‘new’ Member For a more general overview, in affects the South of the continent,
States but is gaining momentum Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece and where winters are supposedly
in historically stronger economies Latvia, people at risk of poverty warmer.
like the UK, France and Germany. have the highest rates for all three
fuel poverty indicators. Fuel poverty is mainly a problem
While there is no commonly of low income households
agreed definition of fuel poverty, Fuel poverty is not only an unable to make energy efficiency
investments and which are
therefore strongly affected by
fuel prices increase. There is also
evidence that energy costs are
growing faster than household
income. Eurostat data points to a
strong correlation between risk
of poverty and arrears on energy

In many European countries the
state offers support to low income
households by providing energy
subsidies or direct financial
support for heating. However, this
is not a long-term solution to the
problem because energy price
regulation and direct financial
support to fuel poor people
require continuous public budget
allocation without generating
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