A recent study published by BPIE found that energy subsidies and direct financial support for household heating cannot provide a long-term solution to the fuel poverty problem. However, vigorous energy renovation measures of fuel poor homes can give a long-term answer to fuel poverty. Case studies of EU countries financing measures against fuel poverty indicate that - even though energy efficiency measures have proven to be the most sustainable solution to the fuel poverty problem - they receive lower funding compared to income and fuel price support schemes.
Fuel poverty is a major problem for Europe, as between 50 and 125 million people are unable to afford a proper indoor thermal comfort. Despite the fact that there is no common European definition, the importance of the problem as well as the severe health impacts caused by fuel poverty are widely recognised. Specifically, excess winter deaths, mental disability, respiratory and circulatory problems are adversely affected by fuel poverty.
To evaluate the extent of the problem, the study describes the current situation of fuel poverty in Europe using data from Eurostat. The indicators used to measure fuel poverty are referring to the inability of people to keep their home adequately warm, to pay their utility bills and to live in a dwelling without defects (leakages, damp walls, etc.).
In 2012, 10.8% of the total European population was unable to keep their home adequately warm, increasing to 24.4% when referring to low-income people. The study also makes recommendations to achieve the social, environmental and energy goals set by the EU for 2020.