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Green Madness: 54 Million Europeans Must Choose Between Eating And Heating

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James Crisp, EurActiv.com

An estimated 54 million Europeans suffer from energy poverty, according to a European Commission analysis, which blames rising prices, low income and energy inefficient homes for forcing people to choose between eating or heating.

You are in energy poverty if you cannot afford to heat your home at an affordable cost. Almost 11% of the EU’s population are faced with that reality, according to the Commission.

Despite this, less than a third of the member states officially recognise energy poverty, and only a few define it in their national laws.

Consumers spend on average 6.4% of their total consumption on electricity, gas, heating and cooling – up by 15% compared to five years ago.

Fuel poverty is not about being poor, but about a combination of low-quality housing and high energy prices causing financial difficulties, and ultimately compromising health and well-being. […]

Bulgarians suffer the most

Eurostat figures for 2014, the most recent year with complete results, showed that almost half of Bulgarians suffer from energy poverty.

40% of its 6.9 million 2014 population – about 2.8 million people – can’t afford to heat their homes.

The figures, obtained by EurActiv.com, revealed that just over a third of Greeks (32.9%) – more than 3.5 million people – were in the same situation.

28% of the Portuguese population,  27.5% of Cypriots, 26.5% of Lithuanians and 22.1% of Maltese are in energy poverty, according to the EU’s statistics service.

Latvia (16.8%), Romania (12.3%), Hungary (11.6%) come next in the scale. Italy scores at 18% and Spain 11%.

Energy poverty is particularly prevalent in southern and central European households but by no means exclusively so.

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