Energy Poverty & the Renovation Wave

09 February 2022 - Published by Deirdre Buist
It is no news that Europeans are being confronted with rising energy prices, fuel bills and inflation. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), there has been a 600% increase in European gas prices since the autumn of 2021. As energy poverty becomes more widespread, this important aspect of the energy transition is increasingly relevant for Stronghouse. Rising energy prices could help to accelerate the Renovation Wave, while energy saving and all forms of renewable energy sources are of extra value.

As Stronghouse continues to focus on raising awareness and supporting homeowners on the road to energy renovation, efficiency and carbon reducing solutions, the energy crisis itself is also driving homeowners to take real steps.

It’s complicated

The reasons behind the current European energy crisis illustrate how complex and interconnected the global energy market is.  Some of the exasperating issues fueling the crisis and energy poverty result from:

  • Strong post-pandemic demand
  • European reliance on gas imports
  • High prices and a rising inflation
  • The energy transition: it’s complicated

District appoach

The exposure to volatile global gas prices underscores the importance of  building a strong, more local renewable energy sector to further reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Within Stronghouse numerous partners  are working with a neighbourhood approach to the energy transition (including Roeselare, IGEMO, Noordenveld, Drenthe, Hoogeveen). Through district  cooperatives, for example, the roll out of sustainable energy alternatives can be accelerated, up-scaled and are  potentially more affordable.

Energy efficiency

At the same time there is a focus on energy efficiency and support measures that can help to combat energy poverty.

Zooming in on Sonderborg (DK), for example,  ProjectZero provides advice on the switch to district heating, and practical tips for citizens in terms of cutting back energy consumption in the home. Charlie Lemtorp elaborates: “All households in Denmark are affected by the price increases to some extent, depending on what kind of heating they’re using and their lifestyle. Electricity  prices have also increased, so we must be aware of power slurping household appliances too. District heating is more energy efficient and less of a strain on the environment so if you currently heat your home with an oil or gas boiler, you can save a lot of money by switching to a district heating system– particularly if it’s run on biomass or excess heat.”

 “A penny saved is a penny earned. The less power we use, the better it is for the climate and for our wallet,” Charlie adds. He has some ‘quick and easy’ tips:

  • Turn down the heat - one degree lower makes a difference on heating bills
  • Watch the lights – turn off what’s not needed
  • Check the standby consumption of appliances
  • Consider using electricity outside primetime
  • Choose the most energy efficient appliances
  • Combat draught with  excluders and insulating tape

Energy poverty support

Stronghouse recognizes the importance of energy poverty and it’s potential impact on the Renovation Wave.  The consortium previously held an online work session to exchange experiences and best practices. This spring we’re planning a follow-up session to share further expertise and discover more potential support  mechanisms that can benefit our stakeholders.