The battle against energy poverty
Poland is one of many European countries affected by the energy crisis with an increasing number of households living in energy poverty, being unable to maintain a sufficient level of heating, cooling, and electricity in their homes due to low-income, high-energy cost, and little energy efficiency in the home. Despite some improvements in the technical condition of buildings and thermal comfort, the COVID-19-pandemic and rising energy prices have hindered progress in combating energy poverty in Poland.
Energy poverty affects up to 32% of households in Poland, with up to 6.58 million people living in energy poverty. The problem is especially prevalent in rural areas and small towns, where families typically live in uninsulated single family-dwellings heated by solid-fuel boilers. Data shows, that almost 40% of such buildings are not insulated or provide inadequate thermal protection.
While the challenges are acute and present, many of the needed solutions are thankfully at hand. The report points to energy efficiency as a valuable resource to both battling energy poverty, as well as contributing to a green transition and reaching climate goals.
Energy efficiency as the tool
Renovating buildings, by upgrading insulation, replacing windows, and installing energy-efficient heating systems, can significantly reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. A comprehensive energy modernisation, adding thermal insulation, replacing heat sources, pipes, radiators and installing thermostatic valves, can in many instances be the most cost-effective option. Thus, implementing energy-efficient solutions can reduce consumption and have a direct impact on fighting energy poverty in the long term.
Denmark has for many years been at the forefront of energy efficiency and renewable energy, developing innovative energy-efficient solutions, prioritising renovation of buildings and implementing a district heating system. These can in many ways act as an inspiration; both in the battle against energy poverty in countries such as Poland, as well as contribute to a just green transition on a global scale.
Energy efficiency also provides an effective way to reach EU’s target to reduce greenhouse gases by at least 55% by 2030, as it can ensure the cheapest and greenest type of energy: the energy not used. Today, Europe’s building sector is responsible for 40% of energy consumption and 36% of CO2 emissions. Renovations in this sector, therefore, present a large potential in securing energy efficiency, which will have positive economic, environmental, and health-related spill-over effects.