[13.12.2023] ENPOR policy recommendations for energy efficiency policies in the private rented sector

These recommendations (available in the full report) were collected through the insights gathered from the ten policy measures improvements selected for the project, aiming to support national and regional states, as well as municipalities, in both enhancing energy efficiency and alleviating energy poverty in the PRS.

First and foremost, at the core of ENPOR’s recommendations is the need for MSs to establish a robust framework for diagnosing and monitoring energy poverty as it also been addressed by the Commission in the staff working document. The project emphasizes the importance of a combination of measures that include comprehensive policy approaches that should focus on better landlord targeting, pushing for energy efficiency through networking, fostering a sense of responsibility in neighborhoods, and improving local framework conditions. Additionally, MSs are encouraged to set up revolving funds that support investing in energy-efficient renovations in PRS dwellings, particularly those with low-income households. The success of these investments depends on spatial targeting that considers the particularities of the local context and the community’s needs, thereby creating relations of trust.

As it was reported before, ENPOR developed a matrix to illustrate multiple pathways for energy poverty alleviation in the PRS. This matrix includes regulatory, financial, and social measures and highlights the importance of representing and cooperating with different stakeholders involved in the PRS. The project recommends that this framework be co-designed and set up by involving national and local stakeholders. The aim is for all participants to co-create and subsequently implement the agreed measures for the PRS. These measures should be inclusive, targeted and tailored to the needs of the energy-poor population, easy-to-access, and ensure long-term continuity.

A significant aspect of the ENPOR recommendations is addressing the ‘split incentives’ issue, where benefits of transactions do not accrue to the actor who pays for the transaction: this is particularly relevant in the context of energy efficiency in buildings, linked with cost recovery issues related to energy efficiency upgrade investments. ENPOR suggests the use of long-term financial instruments, improved targeting of landlords, energy labelling of properties, and representation of landlords in associations to increase capacity and legislative knowledge on retrofitting. Tax reductions are also recommended to reduce investment risks and balance impacts for tenants.

Moreover, the project highlighted the need for mandatory energy performance standards, requiring assessments for the worst-performing buildings with vulnerable tenants and imposing penalties for non-compliance: clear targets for energy efficiency improvements and deadlines for compliance are vital, as is ensuring that energy performance certificates are applied to renovated dwellings.

In terms of tenant rights and protections, policies should ensure transparency in energy bills, protect energy-poor tenants from renovictions, and establish frameworks for cost-sharing between landlords and tenants for energy efficiency improvements. The establishment of one-stop shops to support landlords through the renovation journey is also recommended.

Furthermore, ENPOR stresses the importance of accessible green financing for property upgrades and financial support for vulnerable tenants. Creating targeted financial support programs for low-income tenants to help cover energy bills during extreme weather conditions is vital, as is promoting collaboration with local charitable organizations and energy providers to identify and assist vulnerable households.

The need for education and awareness was extremely evident from the project with the creation of a support framework to ensure that appropriate communication and training measures for implementing agencies and municipalities are in place. This involves developing target-group-specific information materials, using simple and visual language, and integrating awareness-raising into initiatives like clean heating programmes and inefficient appliance replacement schemes.

A more than ever relevant aspect of recommendations has been exploring the gender dimension in energy efficiency and poverty, leading to strongly recommend the prohibition of energy disconnections and banning pre-payment meter installations in households with children. This measure will safeguard the well-being of families, particularly those with young children, ensuring uninterrupted access to essential energy services. Similarly, incorporating care activities, such as medical needs and childcare-related activities, during household energy needs assessments acknowledges the additional energy requirements of households with caregiving responsibilities.

The approach of accounting for childcare costs when determining income thresholds for subsidies shall be a progressive step towards more equitable energy policy, ensuring that families with children, especially those headed by single parents or low-income women, are not inadvertently excluded from receiving necessary support. Furthermore, creating special energy tariffs and financial aid might start addressing the financial barriers they face in accessing energy-efficient housing.

In conclusion, the ENPOR project’s policy recommendations offer a strategic and multifaceted approach to alleviating energy poverty in the PRS. By focusing on a mix of regulatory, financial, and social measures, and emphasizing the importance of stakeholder involvement and co-creation of policies, these recommendations provide a robust framework for policymakers and energy experts to effectively address energy poverty in the EU.

Please note that policy fiches and graphics per ENPOR country are in production and will be added here soon.