Professor of Geography Stefan Bouzarovski has been recognised by the European Union for his work tackling energy poverty. Stefan is one of only four UK ‘ordinary heroes’ acknowledged by the EU’s ‘Together We Protect’ campaign, which highlights individuals who improve everyday lives.
Stefan chairs the Energy Poverty Observatory (EPOV), which influences EU policy aimed at helping the 50 million households struggling with energy costs. Initiatives shaped by EPOV’s research include the introduction of low-interest loans for families seeking to make energy efficiency upgrades to their homes.
Much of Stefan’s research has been devoted to researching the causes and consequences of domestic energy deprivation and fuel poverty – in the UK, Europe and globally. He also leads the ENGAGER European network on energy poverty – funded by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology scheme (COST), which is backed by Horizon 2020, the EU’s biggest research and innovation programme.
Energy poverty can be caused by a lack of access to affordable energy, or occupancy in old, draughty buildings that cannot be easily heated. Those living in energy poverty can be left without lighting, appliances, heating, and access to cooking facilities, and are at greater risk of developing respiratory problems, cardiac illnesses and mental health issues. The excess energy used to heat old, inefficient housing also seriously impacts upon the environment and contributes to climate change.
EPOV data shows that, in 2016, one in ten Europeans was behind with paying their utility bills, with 11% unable to keep their homes warm enough.