High energy bills made life very difficult for 600,000 households in 2022
The high energy prices last year have resulted in a considerably higher rate of energy poverty, said research agency TNO based on its analysis of figures from Statistics Netherlands (CBS). Some 600,000 households experienced energy poverty last year, an increase of 90,000 since the last measurement took place in 2020. That represents an increase of about 18 percent.
Energy-impoverished households are counted based high energy costs, poor insulation and other energy saving characteristics, and income level. The latter determines an ability to invest in improvements to improve energy efficiency in the home, TNO said in the report.
The situation could have been much worse if there had been no government support. Without the contribution to energy costs that the poorest households could utilize, and without the 190 euros in energy support approved for every Dutch household during both November and December, there could have been 1 million households considered to be energy poor.
Nevertheless, the problems are greater than the raw figures about the increase in the number of households. "Energy poverty has widened and deepened," said TNO researcher Peter Mulder. By this he means that more households are experiencing energy poverty and that the problems for those households have also become much greater.
As an example, TNO said that the average energy bill for an energy-poor household was 125 euros per month in 2020, but that rose to 190 euros per month in 2022. As a result, these households spent a larger part of their wages on gas and electricity. Last year it accounted for more than one eighth of their income.
Energy poverty is still felt most strongly in the east and northeast of the Netherlands, but also in some of the neighborhoods of the major cities. People are more likely to find homes with worse energy labels in those areas. Two-thirds of the energy poor live in houses with energy labels F and G. "It really is a problem that plays a lot in the countryside and in the big cities," said Mulder. "It's not nearly as bad in the medium-sized cities."
Most of the new energy poor households are families, TNO said. And energy poverty also leads to higher healthcare costs, the research agency found out. This is especially the case when the heating is lowered or turned off completely to save on energy costs.
Children and teenagers from the such households have the strongest increases in healthcare costs. Their hospital costs are about 40 percent higher and they spend almost a quarter more on medicines than children and teenagers from families in higher income brackets.
TNO therefore argued that reducing energy poverty has several positive effects. This can be reduced by helping make homes more sustainable, but also by helping to pay the energy bill.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times