Energy poverty: evaluating and understanding the current situation

Energy poverty is an issue which is moving increasingly to the forefront of the wider EU debate on energy. Against this backdrop, the Commission is looking at ways in which it can support the Member States in protecting vulnerable consumers.   Areas in which it plans to take action include identifying good practices and facilitating an exchange of information. But first of all it is important to understand what is meant by energy poverty and what the extent of the problem really is. 

To do so, consultants Trinomics have recently published a study in which they outline:

  • Indicators to assess in a regular and systematic way energy poverty and the impact of EU policies at country level
  • Recommendations concerning a set of indicators which would improve the comparability and monitoring of the situation amongst the Member States
  • Suggestions for a tool that can, on the one hand, assess the drivers and outcomes of energy poverty and, on the other, recommend measures to address the issue.

One of the first points raised is the lack of a harmonised definition of energy poverty across the EU.  Therefore, for the purpose of this study, the consultants have considered energy poverty as a situation in which people (particularly those in the low income bracket) cannot afford to heat their homes or meet other necessary household energy services.  This can be due to a variety of factors, including rising energy prices and energy inefficient homes. 

The four indicators identified by the authors of the report as a suitable measurement of energy poverty are the the following:

  • Share of income spent on energy is above twice the national median
  • Share of income spent on energy above the median and income after energy costs is below poverty line
  • Expenditure on energy is below half the national median 
  • Inability to warm a house appropriately

More information: Study

Tags: energy efficiency, heating, energy, energy poverty, bills

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