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Energy poverty, what is it? What measures against this phenomenon?

Energy precariousness

What do we call fuel poverty?

According to ADEME (Agency for the Environment and Energy Management), 14% of French households are in a situation of energy poverty. A state of affairs which concerns all age groups and many social situations, and which threatens to increase. The ONPE (National Observatory for Energy Precariousness) has been working since 2010 to propose preventive and curative measures to curb this phenomenon.

What is the exact definition of fuel poverty?

Anyone who has difficulty obtaining a sufficient supply of energy to cover their basic needs because of their housing conditions or unsuitable resources is a person in a situation of energy poverty. This definition appears in the law of July 12, 2010 on the national commitment to the environment. This takes into account not only household resources, but also living conditions, aside from the heating bill. It should be noted, however, that the definition only includes housing and not other energy components such as transport. Note also the causal effect on health, households in fuel poverty finding themselves much more often faced with physical and also mental illnesses, such as depression.

How many households are affected in France?

At the national level, 14% of households are therefore forced to devote more than 10% of their income to energy costs. If there are a total of more than 5 million households in this situation, it is important to relate their type of housing. In France, there are still more than 75% of homes consuming more than 150 kWh per year and per m2.

What measures are taken to fight against fuel poverty?

The main purpose of the first measures taken was to relieve households in paying their energy bills . Thus, successively, financial aid was put in place in 1984 (Solidarity Fund for Housing) or even the Basic Necessity Tariff in 2004 (for electricity) and in 2008 (for gas). Energy checks that relieve the budget of the households concerned. The government has also launched several programs such as “Better living” (between 2010 and 2017) or the action program on the social housing stock. In both cases, the objective was to carry out renovation work on the housing in order to improve energy efficiency by 25 to 30%. At the same time, several hundred social workers were trained, in order to be able to intervene with the target audience. The training thus enables them to read an invoice, identify savings possibilities and set up collective and partnership actions with other actors.

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