Energy efficiency first principle: from theory to practical implementation

Reducing the overall burden of the energy transition and fighting against energy poverty are two core concepts at the heart of the EU’s ‘energy efficiency first’ principle, one of the pillars of the EU decarbonisation strategy. 

With the Fit for 55 package, the revamped EU energy and climate policy architecture will significantly affect all EU citizens in the effort to achieve the ‘green transition’. Today, it is estimated that more than 50 million households in the European Union are experiencing energy poverty due to inadequate levels of access to essential energy services. At a time when Europe is battling a record-breaking surge in energy prices, “setting the scene to ensure a balanced sharing of these costs is of utmost importance,” commented Paolo Falcioni, APPLiA Director General.  

Reducing the overall burden of the energy transition and fighting against energy poverty are two core concepts at the heart of the EU’s ‘energy efficiency first’ principle, one of the pillars of the EU decarbonisation strategy. Traditionally conceived  as a guiding tool for the design of energy-related policies in the EU, “the principle  would serve as a key leverage to remove existing market and regulatory barriers to energy efficiency and ultimately unleash the full potential of the energy transition,” pointed Mr Falcioni. In a nutshell, the less energy demand via increased energy efficiency, the less CO2 that would need to be abated by policy measures. 

With the principle taking an increasing importance at the EU legislative level, guidance initiatives such as the recently published ‘energy efficiency first’ guidelines are being implemented by the European Commission to ensure its full implementation. In this sense, home appliances represent a cost-effective solution for Member States to comply with the principle and ultimately tackle the global issue of climate change.  

“According to data, around 55% of households in Europe do not hold a dishwasher. And, most importantly, significant inequalities can be identified in the penetration  rate across different EU countries,” explained Mr Falcioni. The potential energy savings that can be reached by broadening energy access, are substantial. “Public  policies promoting the replacement of old and inefficient home appliances by highly energy efficient ones would not only help national authorities reach their targets, but also increase the overall welfare of EU citizens,” he continued. This is also the case for appliances with smart functionalities as well as highly efficient appliances, overall delivering significant reductions in energy bills, creating the conditions for an increased penetration rate of dishwashers, and home appliances more in general, ultimately addressing the primary issue of energy poverty. 

All in all, “introducing the implementation of the ‘energy efficiency first’ principle at the EU and global level is the right choice to ensure citizens’ welfare while keeping the necessary ambitions to succeed in the decarbonisation of the world economy,” stated Paolo Falcioni. This is where home appliances enter the scene and express their full potential.