Energy poverty policy should be better: ‘Take care of people with small scholarships’

Energy and climate policy does not take sufficient account of people who are struggling to pay the energy bill.

This group has spent a large part of their income on energy costs and therefore cannot afford energy-saving measures in their homes. This concludes research firm TNO in a research on energy transition.

Barriers

There are many schemes and subsidies that people can claim to make their homes more sustainable, but according to TNO they are often not accessible to everyone. And if some of the households fall behind in the energy transition, it can undermine the social support for the energy transition. And it is desperately needed, says TNO.

According to the research office, reducing energy poverty leads to many benefits and can contribute to accelerating the energy transition. After installing double-glazing in poorly maintained houses, for example, less need to be fired, which is a profit for the climate.

Shorter shower

Energy poverty is the case when someone spends 10% of their income on energy, says TNO. Because such a large part of the income goes to the energy bill, it can lead to people being sacrificed on comfort. For example, they take a shorter shower or exhaust the heating in cold weather. In the Netherlands, about 650,000 households do not have enough money for heating, lighting or cooking.

Social isolation

Insufficient money for heating, lighting, showering or cooking often leads to other problems. For example, some people get into social isolation because they dont dare to invite anyone home. The European Commission therefore recommends all European countries to monitor and combat this. The Netherlands does not yet have a targeted policy for this.

According to TNO, these are different groups that suffer from this. Like people who bought a house from the housing corporation they first rented from. The maintenance costs involved can be disappointing, so the maintenance is sometimes not carried out. Another group consists of tenants in the free sector whose landlord also does not want to invest in housing maintenance.

Working together

According to TNO, several ministries have to work together to tackle energy poverty. โ€œEconomic Affairs is about the energy transition, Home Affairs is about housing and natural gas-free neighborhoods, and Health is about health problems caused by mould or poorly insulated homes.โ€

TNO therefore advocates a kind of task force that meets every year with all the ministries. โ€œThere are already provinces working on it, such as The Hague and Utrecht, but it has to be implemented nationally. Now everyone reinvents the wheel.โ€