Brussels, 10 April 2023 (TDI): The European Union (EU) is committed to taking pragmatic actions to save energy. It has formulated rules to fight climate change and reduce the EU’s energy dependency.

Energy efficiency refers to using less energy simultaneously saving energy and reducing emissions from power plants.

The EU is revising laws of energy efficiency from 2018 to meet new ambitious goals set under the 2021 European Green Deal.

The revised laws will enable reducing the EU’s dependency on fossil fuel imports from Russia. The EU is also in the process of preparing rules to increase renewable energy inputs.

New energy efficiency targets

The energy efficiency plan can help reduce CO2 emissions as well as cut down the annual EU’s energy imports worth €330 billion.

The EU lawmakers are working strenuously on updating the 32.5% energy efficiency target for 2030, agreed upon in the 2018 energy efficiency directive.

The new targets are set at a reduction of at least 40% in final energy consumption and 42.5% in primary energy consumption. The European Parliament backed these targets back in September 2022.

Final energy consumption refers to the energy used by final consumers (such as electricity consumption by households).

Whereas primary energy consumption represents the total energy demand within a country (for example fuel burned to produce electricity).

Reducing the energy consumption of buildings

According to surveys, the buildings in the EU are responsible for 40% of energy consumption. They contribute 36% to greenhouse gas emissions.

The important areas of improvement in this regard can be the heating and cooling of buildings and domestic hot water which account for 80% of households’ energy consumption.

The improvements in the buildings were proposed by the European Commission in the energy performance of the Building directive in 2021.

The parliament backed the plan for a climate-neutral buildings sector by 2025, in March 2023. The plan will help increase the performance of the buildings and reduce energy bills and energy poverty. It will also increase a healthy indoor environment.

The new buildings will have zero emissions as of 2028. The deadline for new buildings occupied, operated, or owned by public authorities is 2026.

Buildings’ energy performance to not be lower than D

On a scale from the best to the worst-energy performance (A to G), residential buildings should upgrade to D by 2033 with a deadline of 2030 for non-residential and public buildings.

The energy performance can be enhanced by insulation or an improved heating system. The new legislation envisages sharing information within the construction sector.

This also includes sharing information on energy performance with building owners and occupants, financial institutions, and public authorities.

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Buildings to produce solar energy

The new rules will obligate the EU countries to ensure solar technologies in new buildings by 2028. For residential buildings, the deadline should be 2032.

Measures to help lower energy bills

Energy poverty and social problems are mostly attributed to inefficient buildings. The vulnerable households spend more on energy thus exposed to increased prices.

Renovations can help reduce energy bills. It can help people come out of energy poverty. Updating buildings is an expensive endeavor therefore the European Parliament wants to ensure cost-effectiveness for vulnerable households.

The proposal on the energy performance of buildings includes national renovation plans that would allow smooth funding for vulnerable households.

Financing national efforts to tackle energy dependency

The parliament reached an interim agreement with the EU countries on receiving additional funds through updated recovery and resilience plans. It also included measures to save energy, produce clean energy and diversify supplies.

The purpose of national recovery plans will be to support riddance from Russian fossil fuels and work towards a green transition. Another measure to reassure:

  • investment to tackle energy poverty for vulnerable households, small and medium-sized companies, and micro-enterprises
  • more member state funds for cross-border and multi-country energy projects

This provisional agreement still needs to be formally approved by Parliament and Council to enter into force.