For three years, the ASSIST project, with the active participation of the Welfare and Development Association ABD and coordinated in Spain by Ecoserveis, has been carried out in six countries with the aim of combating energy poverty through three axes: the active involvement of consumers in the energy market, positive behavioral changes regarding the use of energy and influencing the design of policies attending energy poverty. As quantifiable results, almost 13,000 people have been assisted and 93 domestic energy agents have been actively involved.
The project, funded by the H2020 research and innovation program of the European Union, has promoted a support network for saving energy at home, from which the technical and social aspects of the problem have been addressed to reduce the energy market obstacles that the most vulnerable population faces.
ABD has had an active participation through the presence of Mónica Plana as a member of the national committee of experts ASSIST, in which the Energia Justa volunteer team has also been represented. The committee included professionals from the business, social and public sectors to ensure that the activities carried out have an effective impact on vulnerability and energy poverty.
From the Home Assistance Service to the Electric Cooperatives
To achieve its objective at the national level, five actions have been carried out divided into three areas, according to the type of professional profile that has received training as a domestic energy agent (AED) and which has subsequently been advising users: Public attention professionals of electrical cooperatives, direct attention professionals of the domiciliary assistance service and professionals of the telecare service in Catalonia and the Valencian Community.
The professionals have been trained for a month and a half in basic energy concepts, social care, communication, advice on energy supplies and positive behavioral changes regarding the use of energy at home.
Once the training was completed, the AEDs have advised the users who wanted to participate in the project, accompanying them in an empowerment process in the energy field to fight against the energy vulnerability situations they face.
Impact on energy saving and improvement of empowerment
In total, 12,482 people have benefited from the project through direct participation actions, informative events and indirect participation actions, advised by the 93 active domestic energy agents.
On average, it’s calculated to have achieved an energy saving of 4.5% in homes that have been directly advised during the six months of intervention. A very positive indicator, especially considering that vulnerable households use less energy than the population average.
Another outstanding factor has been the improvement of the users’ empowerment regarding the control of domestic energy. Users have declared an average improvement of 3.9 in the empowerment factor.
Finally, it has been found that a continuous intervention over time and with professionals who have an emotional bond already created with the users can optimize energy counseling. Users rely more on the professionals who have advised them, comfort levels improve and at the same time costs of supplies are reduced.
PAEs and Energia Justa, in the report of the European Energy Poverty Observatory
On the other hand, the European Energy Poverty Observatory EPOV has published the 2019 report about the situation in the member states. Among the initiatives implemented in Spain is the work carried out by the Energy Advisory Points PAE, which in its first year of service in 2017 assisted 23,000 people and avoided the cut of supplies in 5,000 cases. Likewise, among the most relevant organizations in the field of energy poverty, the Fuel Poverty Group, now Energia Justa, stands out.