Low income can be one of the drivers of energy poverty. This condition may be caused by unemployment. In fact, low-income households can be in a vulnerable situation where they can’t pay their energy bills or bear the cost of renovation work for their houses. Tackling energy poverty while simultaneously addressing unemployment challenges through labour market insertion programmes can be a valuable starting point.
Several successful local, national and international projects featured on the EPAH ATLAS address citizen unemployment and have obtained favourable outcomes in mitigating energy poverty. The four projects presented in this article took place at different scales, in several macro-geographical areas with varying contextual factors. The diversity of methods employed in these projects shows that this kind of intervention scheme is not fixed and can be tailored according to specific social contexts and problem definition. The following projects can be found on the EPAH ATLAS by searching for the project name and using the advanced filter option.
Stromspar-Check (energy-saving check) is an ongoing German project implemented at the national level that offers citizens in long-term unemployment the opportunity to become electricity-saving advisers. The advisors visit low-income households and advise the residents on how to save energy and water and how to incorporate climate protection actions in their daily lives. The project chiefly aims to deliver a peer-to-peer experience. The advisers empathize with low-income households' financial and social situations and can provide counselling as equals. This project has been developed in 150 locations in Germany since 2005. The results show that 7000 citizens have been employed as electricity-saving advisors. They carried out more than 380.000 consultations in homes, and the advice they provided saved 380 kg of CO2 per household.
Developed at the regional level, the project Sustainable Winterisation Solutions, carried out in Vaslui county in Romania between 2017 to 2020, implemented an action plan against energy poverty that included measures dedicated to improving the employability of citizens. The project aimed to offer support for insulating and heating the houses and to educate families about proper heating solutions to improve children’s health. It also focused on assessing the local labour market and training parents to increase their chances of finding employment. In this project, labour market insertion measures are part of an integrated approach that seeks to help families in several aspects.
At a different scale of intervention, the municipality of Barcelona implemented projects at the municipality and neighbourhood levels, aiming to promote employment to tackle energy poverty through social inclusion. Since 2017, the Spanish city has developed Energy Advice Points (PAEs), a free municipal service where citizens can learn about their energy rights and receive advice on reducing energy costs. Among the energy advisers that provide the service, 32 people previously on long-term unemployment were hired. Every year, PAEs have also employed 20 people with difficulties accessing the labour market for a period of 10 months. The peer-to-peer experience helps improve the quality of the intervention between advisers and vulnerable people. Every month 2500 citizens benefit from advice, and 100kW of electrical power is saved. Additionally, 80% of the workers hired have successfully returned to the labour market.
At a more local level, the project Renewing energies was implemented in the Barcelona neighbourhood of Nou Barris between 2020 and 2021. The objective was to create an innovative employment plan and promote a new energy model based on decentralised renewable energies where people and households share energy in a social and solidary way. To enable this model and improve community integration, women in a situation of vulnerability were trained to understand and defend the energy rights of the community. They were also provided with a specific insertion itinerary to guarantee secure employment.
These four projects were implemented at different scales and in areas presenting different socio-economic and cultural conditions. Nevertheless, through their outcomes and results, they all showcase the benefits of labour market insertion measures for the mitigation of energy poverty. Improving the socio-economic situations of vulnerable people can empower them and partly reduce their vulnerability to energy poverty. These measures represent several different intervention types that can be implemented to address energy poverty challenges. It is essential to tackle energy poverty through integrated approaches that address its multidimensional nature.
About the EPAH ATLAS
The EPAH ATLAS is an online interactive database that allows you to discover local, national and international projects and measures addressing energy poverty worldwide.Is your project or measure not part of the EPAH ATLAS yet? Download the submission template, fill in all the relevant information and submit it to the EPAH helpdesk. Your input will be added to the EPAH ATLAS. If your project/measure is already part of the database, but you wish to submit changes, you can contact the EPAH helpdesk too.
- 9 september 2022
- Directorate-General for Energy