Energy poverty represents a situation in which household has a difficulty, or sometimes inability, to cover its basic energy needs (see video). It mostly affects low-income households, whose economic disadvantage is often matched with poor energy efficiency of their homes. Between 50 and 125 million of EU citizens are estimated to be energy poor. The situation is even more severe in the South and East Europe (SEE), where up to 30 % or even more households are struggling with energy poverty. Project REACH (see video) aims at empowering energy poor households in Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia to save energy and water, while at the same time establishing energy poverty as an issue that demands tailor-made structural measures. To do this, REACH targets energy poor households, local actors that can help address energy poverty (such as social support services, local authorities or schools), and local, national and EU level decision makers. Project REACH is implemented by four partners, Energy Agency Plovdiv from Bulgaria, DOOR from Croatia, MACEF from Macedonia and Focus from Slovenia.
So far over 40 teachers and 200 students and volunteers from vocational schools were trained to preform energy audits in energy poor households (see video). They helped partners to implement more than 1000 households visits, whereby basic energy efficiency measures were put in place. The initial results show that a visited household can save on average over 50 EUR and over 170 kg of CO2 emissions on annual basis. Apart from practical savings, the partners have so far also motivated over 50 local actors to engage and address the challenge of energy poverty. Partners have composed a set of policy recommendations that are specific to the SEE region and debated them with decision makers in the European Parliament in June 2016. Advocacy work in Slovenia lead to establishment of national program for households visits, where the REACH partner helped the government set up such program (see video). An important achievement is also that since late 2015 REACH practices are transferred to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro.
Should you wish to see how to analyse energy poverty at national or local level; train vocational school professors and students or volunteers and unemployed people to perform energy audits; or engage decision makers and local actors in designing structural solutions to energy poverty, please, visit REACH project website at http://reach-energy.eu and feel welcome to make use of the project materials.