European Heating and Cooling Strategy


Heating and cooling accounts for half of the EU’s final energy consumption. Buildings alone use 40% of the EU’s final energy, predominantly for space heating and hot water. Most of the energy used for heating and cooling is supplied from fossil fuels, around 75%. This explains why buildings and their energy consumption also represent 36% of CO2 emissions in the EU.

EU Policy

In 2015, the Energy Union Strategy of the European Union outlined a framework to make energy more secure, affordable and sustainable. Recognizing the importance of the heating sector, one of the follow-ups of the EU’s plans to create an Energy Union was the EU Heating and Cooling Strategy, which was launched in 2016. This Strategy is a first attempt at developing a framework for integrating efficient heating and cooling into EU energy policies “by focusing action on stopping the energy leakage from buildings, maximising the efficiency and sustainability of heating and cooling systems, supporting efficiency in industry”. 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, according to the European Union. For example, the EU has endorsed the goal of decarbonizing buildings. In a non-binding resolution, the European Parliament welcomed the EU Heating & Cooling Strategy and requested a vision of an EU building stock of nearly Zero Energy Buildings by 2050.

The role of the heating industry - EHI position

Covering about 90% of the heating market in Europe, EHI welcomes the greater focus on its sector from the European institutions. EHI members produce a wide range of high-efficiency and renewable heating technologies and supports the goal of creating an efficient and decarbonised European heating and cooling market. For EHI, the immediate priority of the Strategy should be to modernize the installed stock of heaters: consumers are insufficiently aware of the (in)efficiency of their own heater. Our industry estimates that 65% of the installed stock of heaters in Europe is old and inefficient. The potential for energy savings offered by modernising the installed base of heaters in European homes is therefore enormous. A 2016 study by Ecofys, entitled ‘EU pathways to a decarbonised building sector’, finds that an acceleration of the modernisation of the heating stock – in combination with a reduction of buildings’ energy demand – can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from residential sector by 18,5% by 2030, compared to 2015 levels. This drop in emissions from the heating sector can help to keep the EU on track to meet the targets in the EU’s Clean Energy Package. While the EU has an important role to play, EHI reaffirms the need for action on local, regional and national levels. EU policy should recognize the different heating markets within the EU, given the very different ages, climate zones, construction quality and uses of buildings within the EU. A one-size-fits-all policy that pushes the same or similar heating solutions across the EU will not work.