Heating and cooling

Facts and figures

Heating and cooling in 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 increases in temperature.

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.

According to 2018 figures from Eurostat, 75% of heating and cooling is still generated from fossil fuels while only 19% is generated from renewable energy. 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.

*Source: Mapping and Analysis of the Current and Future (2020-2030) heating/cooling fuel deployment (fossils/renewables), Fraunhofer and alia, 2016.

EU strategy for heating and cooling

Reducing the energy demand in buildings and industry is important to reduce the energy bills and increase the share of renewable energy.

It can be achieved by using advanced construction and design techniques and materials when constructing or renovating buildings. Smart solutions to manage energy consumption in heating and cooling, such as smart thermostats, would help save energy. Energy can also be saved by replacing heating and cooling equipment at their natural end-of-life, with more advanced systems.

Other renewable heating and cooling technologies, such as biomass boilers and solar heating systems, contribute to reducing the important and use of fossil fuels. Energy-efficient technologies and energy management solutions can be applied for the industry, and combined heat and power units can benefit the energy system and local energy generation.

In February 2016, the Commission proposed an EU Heating and Cooling Strategy as a first step in exploring the issues and challenges in this sector, and solving them with EU energy policies.

In line with proposed solutions in the Strategy, the Commission initiated a series of roundtables for the representatives of the industry, over the course of 2018-2019, to discuss the barriers in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Based on the input from the roundtables and the analysis of barriers, drivers and best practice policies, recommendations for EU-level policy interventions were proposed and published in the study “Shaping a sustainable industry: Guidance for best practices and policy recommendations”. 

Comprehensive assessments

In line with Article 14 of the Energy Efficiency Directive (12/27/EU), EU countries are requested to carry out and notify to the Commission a comprehensive assessment on efficient heating and cooling. If the Commission request it, these assessments can be made every five years. By 31 December 2020, EU countries should submit their assessments. 

The revised Annex VIII to the Directive (Delegated Regulation 2019/826/EU) describes the methodology for the assessments. Notably, the assessments have to comply with legislation on the energy union, and they must be closely linked with planning of policy measures to the Regulation on the Governance of the energy union and climate action (EU/2018/1999).


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