The EU Survey on Income and Living Conditions (EU SILC) estimates that 54 million European citizens i.e., around 10.8% of the EU population, were unable to keep their home adequately warm in 2012, with similar numbers being reported with regard to the late payment of utility bills or presence of poor housing conditions.
European Union is supporting several initiatives to tackle energy poverty including funding Horizon 2020 Energy Efficiency and Intelligent Energy Europe ranging from how to use smart meters and engaging social housing companies, to training energy ambassadors and advisors and promoting energy saving behavior. ASSIST project team, one of these funded projects, has analyzed the impact of these EU initiatives.
A total of 30 EU initiatives have been reviewed although a most intensive analysis has been done for nine EU initiatives: Citizens’ Energy Forum and projects both IEE and H2020 funded ACHIEVE, SMART-UP, ENERGY AMBASSADORS, EC-LINK, BECA, EMPOWERING, FIESTA, SERENADE, EN2, REACH and TRIME. All of them are initiatives or projects that include at least 2 EU Member states, target households energy consumption and address in some way energy poverty and/or vulnerable consumers are prioritized.
As a result of the analysis, the report Replicable Best Practices National and European Measures states that most of the reviewed projects provide information and raise awareness on energy saving behavior linked with the EU strategy for saving energy, while research projects focus on explanations of energy poverty drivers.
Most of the reviewed initiatives focus in the quality of dwelling as a cause of energy poverty and fewer projects focus on the other causes of this new social priority which are the low incomes and energy prices.
Thanks to these initiatives, Europe has informed consumers including vulnerable consumers, more developed qualifications of different stakeholders and capacity building, better knowledge on energy poverty and vulnerable consumers and more informed policy proposals. The question to what extend this has contributed to the decrease of energy poverty remains open.