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Fuel Poverty Measurement in Europe – A Pilot Study

University of York
Date: 2014


Earlier research has indicated that some EU Member States have developed a more advanced awareness of fuel poverty than others. Furthermore, a standardised framework for measuring fuel poverty across the Union has yet to exist. As a result, a comprehensive picture of the issue of fuel poverty is hindered by inferior measurement, patchy data and an underdeveloped understanding of the concept in many countries. Nevertheless, early reviews highlight examples of good practice.

Key research Question

The overall purpose of the pilot project was to test whether common approaches to fuel poverty could be developed through creating standardised information and guidance resources. Specifically, this study sought to develop a baseline of knowledge on fuel poverty by using a standard survey across multiple Member States. It also aimed to develop a toolkit that could act as a reference on the theory of fuel poverty and offer guidance on measuring the concept.

Summary of activity

A literature review of policy and academic and grey literature from Member States on the measurement of fuel poverty is included. The pilot survey was targeted at households in eight EU Member States, with a total of 52 households completing the survey. Hosted on a website, it asked a series of questions on various related areas such as household size, income, property type, energy efficiency measures and challenges in maintaining warmth.



The literature review indicated that there remain inadequate data on fuel poverty, with a reliance on information about consequences rather than causes. The pilot survey was completed by 52 people and suggested that, among other issues, condensation and draughts were the main challenges with regard to warmth and energy; the vast majority had no problem paying their energy bills, but most people had heard of the term ‘fuel poverty’. However, the authors note that limitations in sampling may have influenced the responses.


The report recommends a series of improvements to current surveys in order to generate richer data. These include developing the EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions survey, harmonising the Household Budget Surveys across Member States and/or creating a new purpose-made EU28 household survey of fuel poverty.

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