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What role for energy efficient appliances in addressing Europe’s energy poverty crisis?

Event reports 22 Mar 2024

Energy poverty is a significant concern across Europe, with implications for both societal well-being and climate action. Despite the proven effectiveness of efficient appliances as mitigation measures, access to sustainable technologies remains unequal. To address this challenge, APPLiA, in collaboration with the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and Luxembourg, hosted a breakfast debate bringing together representatives from the EU Institutions, governments, industry and NGOs to identify existing gaps and necessary measures to bridge them.

Statistics presented, highlighted the urgency of the issue. 1 in 4 Europeans cannot adequately heat or cool their homes.  Having a closer look at the data, APPLiA’s Paolo Falcioni outlined that at least 42% of Europeans do not own a dishwasher. While it may be a deliberate choice for some households not to own one, for many others instead, the investment at front is too high to afford. In both cases, this comes with “significant losses” in terms of water and energy savings with an impact on the wallet and the environment. If all Europeans owned a dishwasher, it would save 83% of water and 61% of energy, compared to washing dishes by hand. 

Energy efficient technologies mean lower bills for consumers and businesses, and overall a cheaper and faster transition to climate neutrality. This makes it essential for Europe and for households at broad to recognise the mitigating potential of these solutions, from a financial, social and environmental perspective.

On Europe’s action to mitigate energy poverty, European Commission’s Anne Weidenbach stressed the importance of crafting tailored solutions at Member State-level. “There are plenty of examples of successful policy measures in tackling energy poverty at national level that can and should be replicated across Europe,” she explained, emphasising that investment needs to be facilitated for consumers to be advised and be able to access sustainable technologies. In this sense, the role of tools like the EU Energy Label, Ecodesign and EPREL is fundamental in guiding consumers toward more informed choices and overall a better understanding of the benefits stemming from energy efficiency. 

Delving deeper into the multidimensionality of the energy poverty issue, Lina Gálvez Muñoz MEP, Vice Chair of the ITRE Committee in the European Parliament, shed light on the gender dimension of energy poverty. Europe's picture shows women to be on the losing end. This is due to different factors ranging from income to age. However, EU rules do not explicitly envisage a gender-specific approach."We need to face these differences with a clear understanding of the costs and benefits involved. Our aim should be to fight inequalities and develop economic policies that do not exacerbate existing disparities, ensuring that people are not trapped in poverty”, summarised Muñoz.

Throughout the debate, panellists convened on the need to reframe energy poverty as an investment rather than a cost. By shifting the perspective to view energy poverty through the lens of investment, society can mobilise resources and implement targeted interventions to alleviate the crisis and enable the transition.

As Europe navigates its path toward a greener and more equitable future, addressing energy poverty must remain a cornerstone of its agenda. Joint efforts at both the policymaking and societal level are imperative to effectively tackle this multifaceted issue. This involves greater information to advise consumers on the benefits of sustainable, energy efficient technologies and better access to finance to give them concrete means to overcome existing barriers.


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