Rethinking the measurement of energy poverty in Europe: a critical analysis of indicators and data

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JournalIndoor and built environment
DateAccepted/In press - 21 Feb 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 20 Mar 2017
DatePublished (current) - 1 Aug 2017
Issue number7
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)879-901
Early online date20/03/17
Original languageEnglish


Energy poverty – which has been recognised via terms such as ‘fuel poverty’ and ‘energy vulnerability ’ – occurs when a household experiences inadequate levels of essential energy services in the home. Measuring energy poverty is challenging, as it is a culturally sensitive and private condition, which is temporally and spatially dynamic. This is compounded by the limited availability of appropriate data and indicators, and lack of consensus on how energy poverty should be conceptualised and measured. Statistical indicators of energy poverty are an important and necessary part of the research and policy landscape. They carry great political weight, and are often used to guide the targeting of energy poverty measures - due to their perceived objectivity - with important consequences for both the indoor and built environment of housing. Focussing on the European Union specifically, this paper critically assesses the available statistical options for monitoring energy poverty, whilst also presenting options for improving existing data. This is examined through the lens of vulnerability thinking, by considering the ways in which policies and institutions, the built fabric and everyday practices shape energy use, alongside the manner in which energy poor households experience and address the issue on a day-to-day basis.

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© The Author(s) 2017. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

    Research areas

  • Energy poverty, Fuel poverty, Indicators, Measurement, Vulnerability

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