Heating and cooling in our buildings and industry accounts for half of the EU’s energy consumption.
In EU households, heating and hot water alone account for 79% of total final energy use (192.5 Mtoe). Cooling is a fairly small share of total final energy use, but demand from households and businesses such as the food industry is rising during the summer months. This trend is also linked to climate change and temperature rises. In industry, 70.6% of energy consumption (193.6 Mtoe) was used for space and industrial process heating, 26.7% (73.3 Mtoe) for lighting and electrical processes such as machine motors, and 2.7% (7.2 Mtoe) for cooling.
84% of heating and cooling is still generated from fossil fuels while only 16% is generated from renewable energy. In order to fulfil the EU’s climate and energy goals, the heating and cooling sector must sharply reduce its energy consumption and cut its use of fossil fuels.
Cutting the energy consumed by heating and cooling in buildings and industry can be achieved through scaling up the use of advanced construction and design techniques and high-performance insulation materials when renovating buildings. Energy use can also be cut by providing better information and control of energy use with intelligent thermostats. They can turn heating off when the set temperature is reached, or even switch off when there is nobody in the building, in particular office buildings. Energy can also be saved by upgrading heating and cooling equipment such as boilers to the latest, most efficient technologies. Other renewable heating and cooling technologies such as biomass boilers and solar heating systems cut the use of fossil fuels. In industry, energy for heating and cooling can be saved with energy-efficient technologies such as combined heat and power units which produce both heat and electricity, and via energy management solutions and technologies.
EU strategy for heating and cooling
In February 2016, the Commission proposed an EU heating and cooling strategy. This is a first step in exploring the issues and challenges in this sector, and solving them with EU energy policies.