Eurostat data reveals that the 11% of the total population of the European Union is unable to keep their home adequately warm. Caused by low household income, high energy bills, and low dwelling energy efficiency, energy poverty has traditionally been associated with the inability of households to meet their heating needs during winter. However, up to the 19% of households declared not being comfortably cool in summer. Nine of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2005, with the last five years comprising the five hottest. Not to mention this 2019 June has been the hottest on record. Climate change is increasing both the severity and frequency of extreme hot weather and heat waves and in dense urban areas, these heatwave episodes will be combined with the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect, worsening city centres temperatures which will negatively impact human health and wellbeing. Thus, cooling needs and overheating risk need to be incorporated into the energy poverty equation.
The project COOLtoRISE aims to reduce summer energy poverty incidence among European households improving their indoor thermal habitability conditions and reducing their energy needs during the hot season, which will decrease their exposure to heat and heat-related health risks. Not all households have an air conditioning system and it is known that energy poor households make a restrictive use of heating and cooling as they cannot afford associated energy bills.
However, raising awareness on summer energy poverty and implementing actions to mitigate it will have a double benefit on European households. First, heat exposure of energy poor households will be reduced by increasing indoor thermal conditions, which will decrease in their risk to suffer heat related diseases. Second, raising summer energy culture and preventing air conditioning devices to be installed can have serious benefits on climate change preventing future emissions.
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