What is energy poverty?
Adequate warmth, cooling, lighting and the energy to power appliances are essential services needed to guarantee a decent standard of living and citizens' health. Furthermore, access to these energy services empowers European citizens to fulfil their potential and enhances social inclusion.
Energy poor households experience inadequate levels of these essential energy services, due to a combination of high energy expenditure, low household incomes, inefficient buildings and appliances, and specific household energy needs. It is estimated that more than 50 million households in the European Union are experiencing energy poverty.
Energy poverty is a distinct form of poverty associated with a range of adverse consequences for people’s health and wellbeing – with respiratory and cardiac illnesses, and mental health, exacerbated due to low temperatures and stress associated with unaffordable energy bills. In fact, energy poverty has an indirect effect on many policy areas - including health, environment and productivity. Addressing energy poverty has the potential to bring multiple benefits, including less money spent by governments on health, reduced air pollution, better comfort and wellbeing, improved household budgets, and increased economic activity.
Awareness of energy poverty is growing rapidly across Europe, and the issue is being increasingly integrated within the activities of the European Union, as evidenced by the European Commission’s flagship legislative proposal “Clean Energy for All Europeans” announced on 30th November 2016. As such, it is now more important than ever to build a specialist network of stakeholders working on energy poverty in Europe.