Views
1 year ago

ENERGY POVERTY HANDBOOK

energypovertyhandbook-online

could be captured, for

could be captured, for example, if a household is unable to keep warm during winter, or if they have poor health. However, as energy poverty is multi-dimensional, an ideal approach would use a combination of these indicators of drivers and outcomes to build a detailed picture of the situation, rather than relying on just one indicator. Figure 1 - An illustrative diagram of measurable drivers and outcomes Household type Cost of energy Choice of energy carriers These general approaches translate into three main methods of measurement: 1. Direct measurement – where the level of energy services (such as heating) chieved in the home is compared to a set standard; 2. Expenditure approach - which explores the ratio of household income to energy expenditure, in comparison to certain absolute and relative thresholds; 3. Subjective or Consensual approach – based on self-reported assessments of ability to attain certain basic necessities. For specific policy delivery at the local level, these approaches are also supplemented by: 4. Indicators for household identification. Underoccupancy Drivers Energy inefficient housing / equipment The subsequent sections will now examine each of these approaches in more detail. Additional energy needs Rationing of other energy services (e.g. lighting, cooking) Inabilty to heat+cool home adequately Tenure type Damp and mould Outcomes Worsened physical and mental health Low household income Deterioration of built fabric & worsened energy performance Arrears and energy debt 1. Direct measurement The direct approach attempts to measure if sufficient levels of energy services are being achieved in the home, such as heating and lighting. To date, this has mainly involved taking internal temperature readings to determine if households are attaining ‘adequate’ levels of warmth that promote good health and well-being. However, this approach is rarely used to measure energy poverty and has never been employed at the European scale (Thomson, 2013). This is due to the technical issues involved with measuring energy services, determining adequate standards, and ethical concerns about entering homes and monitoring households. Large scale empirical temperature data is scarce at the national level, for example, in England the English House Condition Survey (EHCS) stopped taking living room temperatures in 1996 (Boardman, 2010); since then only a limited number of studies have been conducted. For example, Oreszczyn et al. (2006) conducted a comprehensive study of internal living room and bedroom temperatures in 1,604 English houses, taking half-hourly readings for two to four weeks across two winters (Oreszczyn et al., 2006: 246). These measurements were collected from low-income households that were receiving energy efficiency improvements to their property through the Warm Front scheme. Healy and Clinch (2002a) have also conducted research into internal room 104 DEFINITIONS AND INDICATORS OF ENERGY POVERTY ACROSS THE EU DEFINITIONS AND INDICATORS OF ENERGY POVERTY ACROSS THE EU 105

temperatures via their national household survey of energy poverty and thermal comfort in the Republic of Ireland. In total, 1,500 households were recruited by random probability-based sampling, and were questioned about their ability to heat their home adequately and had their living-room temperature measurements taken. Healy found that 29.4% of energy poor households had a living-room temperature of 18°C or less, compared with just 8.8% of other households (Healy, 2004: 134). However, Healy is critical of using living room temperatures as an indicator of thermal comfort and energy poverty, arguing that social desirability bias may cause households to heat the living room to a higher level than normal in anticipation of the interview (Healy, 2004: 134). Furthermore, in countries where many dwellings are served by district heating systems that do not allow individuals to control their heat consumption, such as in Central and Eastern Europe, temperatures are not a good indicator of energy poverty as the internal temperatures are “typically adequate, or in cases even too high” (Tirado Herrero and Ürge-Vorsatz, 2012). However, the move towards ‘smart homes’, as well as the smart meter rollout across the EU, hints at future potential for utilising the direct measurement approach in a more widespread manner. 2. Expenditure approach One of the most commonly used energy poverty measures for national assessments is the expenditure approach, which explores the ratio of household income to energy expenditure. Broadly speaking, a household is considered energy poor if they exceed a set threshold, such as 10%, or twice the national median. A commonly used data source is national Household Budget Surveys, which collect actual household expenditure across a variety of categories. Within this approach, there are a number of important considerations to be made, which can be summarised according to three overarching themes: whether to use an absolute or relative expenditure threshold; how to quantify energy needs and spending; and how to measure household income. There are advantages and limitations associated with each of these themes and these are described below. 2.1 Absolute versus relative measures: Under an absolute measure of energy poverty, a household is considered to be energy poor if they spend more than a fixed X per cent of their income on energy (Healy, 2004), for instance, in the UK the threshold was previously 10 per cent. Given their construction they make the eradication of energy poverty a possibility (Boardman, 2012). By comparison, energy costs under a relative threshold are typically calculated on a median cost to income ratio (Moore, 2012: 21). Given that unlike incomes, energy prices do not remain static, relative measures may be subject to substantial fluctuations (Moore, 2012: 21), providing a more complex account of energy poverty and the difficulty of a ‘moving target’ (Boardman, 2012), but potentially one that represents relative hardship more accurately (Boardman, 2010: 231). It is important to note that the use of median figures is preferable to mean figures, as energy expenditure is asymmetrically distributed, thus the mean value can be misleading as it gives weight to ‘atypically’ high values (Moore, 2012). As indicated by Table 1 both approaches have been used by different EU countries, with England recently moving from an absolute to relative mode of measurement, with the new Low Income High Cost (LIHC) definition of energy poverty referring to both the national median required energy bill and the 60 per cent of median income poverty line. 2.2 Energy needs and spending: for an expenditure based measure of energy poverty some quantification of energy costs is required. Two main approaches exist, required theoretical spend and actual spend. In the UK, modelled required energy consumption takes into account the energy required for space heating, water heating, lights and appliances, and cooking (DECC, 2010). The model takes into consideration required internal temperatures based on World Health Organisation standards (1987), occupancy rates (hours spent in the home and under occupancy), energy efficiency, and types of energy available to the household (DECC, 2010). The approach used in the United Kingdom relies on detailed information to be collected about all aspects of the dwelling (DECC, 2010). Required energy expenditure is considered to be more meaningful than actual spend, particularly as it is unaffected by the priorities and decisions households actually make (Hirsch et al., 2011), but the housing data required to do so is almost unique to the UK (Moore, 2012) and subsequently no other European country conducts in depth modelling. As such, the majority of non-UK based studies have used actual expenditure. Actual energy expenditure is easier to calculate, but is widely regarded as a poor indication of energy poverty (Moore, 2012; Liddell et al., 2012), especially as low income households often spend significantly less on energy than would be required to maintain a warm home (Moore, 2012). 106 DEFINITIONS AND INDICATORS OF ENERGY POVERTY ACROSS THE EU DEFINITIONS AND INDICATORS OF ENERGY POVERTY ACROSS THE EU 107

ENERGY POVERTY HANDBOOK
ENERGY POVERTY HANDBOOK
ENERGY POVERTY HANDBOOK
FUEL POVERTY
Energy Poverty
Energy Poverty
Energy Poverty
Energy Poverty
A poverty of information
Reducing-poverty-reviews-FULL_0
Still cold
Still cold
CHILD POVERTY IN EUROPE
Still cold
UK Fuel