What is energy poverty and how to fight against it?

Energy Poverty should be first and foremost viewed as a multidimensional problem caused by low energy efficiency, high energy costs, and low income. But the effect energy poverty has on a society surpasses this triad of inputs. Let’s explore the concept of energy poverty, why it’s a pressing issue and how the CEESEN-BENDER project is going to tackle it.

Energy poverty is caused by a host of underlying social, economic and infrastructure factors. It lowers people’s quality of life, negatively affects their general state of health and wellbeing, leads to debt and social exclusion, and often creates a surge in household energy costs as well as carbon emissions. 

According to the recent Eurostat data on poverty and social exclusion from 2021, 21,7% or 95,4 million EU citizens were at risk of poverty and social exclusion, higher compared to 2019’s 92,4 million.

Why is it important to tackle energy poverty?

Addressing energy poverty is not only a matter of humanitarian concern but also a crucial step towards achieving sustainable development. 

Poor insulation, indoor moisture and mold, drafts, rotten window frames, leaky roofs, and low indoor temperatures all contribute to low life quality in energy-poor households, factors that are linked to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Besides wintertime energy poverty, uninsulated buildings in combination with climate change have resulted in increases in ambient night-time temperatures and frequency during prolonged heat waves, posing a rising threat to health and life in the summertime. Even when not causing morbidity or mortality events, overheating and the inability to keep homes cool during summer results in serious discomfort and stress for residents.

Buildings are responsible for 40% of Europe’s total energy consumption, and EU policy has prioritised the identification of dwellings and citizens at a higher risk of energy poverty in order to develop effective strategies for building renovation. In accordance with the energy efficiency first principle, building renovation must be prioritized when discussing the overall solution to energy poverty. In so doing, the least efficient building stock should be targeted first and split- incentive dilemmas and market failures should be addressed. Furthermore, addressing energy poverty, like energy transition in general, should be socially just and inclusive.

CEESEN-BENDER project: collective endeavor to combat energy poverty

International team behind the CEESEN-BENDER project is dedicated to mitigating energy poverty in the Central and Eastern European region. The main goal of the project is to empower and support vulnerable homeowners and renters living in Soviet-era multiapartment buildings in 5 CEE countries: Croatia, Slovenia, Estonia, Poland, and Romania. The project is funded by the LIFE+ Clean Energy Transition programme (2021-2027) under GA no 101120994. 

The project will help them through the renovation process by identifying the main obstacles and creating trustworthy support services that include homeowners, their associations, and building managers.

Read more about CEESEN-BENDER project >>



(Photo: Image by pvproductions on Freepik)