What does energy poverty mean and who does it affect?
Energy poverty represents situation in which household has a difficulty, or sometimes inability, to be able to afford its basic energy needs.
It mostly affects low-income households – retired people, unemployed or poorly paid, dependent on social benefits. Their economic disadvantage is often matched with poor energy efficiency of their homes. The main needs of those households are sufficient warmth for health and enough energy for comfort living.
What about energy poverty in the EU?
Even though the EU is one of the most developed areas in the world, between 50 and 125 million of EU’s citizens are estimated to be energy poor. The situation is severe in the Eastern European Member States. In the majority of new Member States up to 30 % or even more households are struggling with energy poverty.
How can REACH help?
Project REACH wanted to address this problem and show people who are struggling with energy poverty in the EU that they can save money by saving energy.
To achieve this goal we had to take two steps:
- First step was to empower energy poor households to save energy and change their habits.
- Second step was to establish energy poverty as an issue that demands tailor-made policies and measures at local, national and EU level.
With these two major steps project was responding to the following specific problems, market barriers and user needs:
- energy poverty not being perceived as a problem and hence not being defined and monitored,
- lack of tailored policies and measures for households that are struggling with this problem,
- energy poor households unaware of practical steps to reduce their energy use (and bills).
That is why acronym REACH stands for:
Reduce Energy use And Change Habits
The project started on 1st March 2014 and it lasted for three years.
REACH built on the success of the project ACHIEVE which aim was to contribute to practical and structural solutions for reduction of energy poverty in Europe. Basing its approach on the best practices throughout Europe, ACHIEVE identified households that are the most vulnerable to energy poverty and worked with them to implement suitable steps to reduce unnecessary energy use and costs.
Energy poor households are an important issue that needs attention because a lot of people are struggling with high energy bills and lack of knowledge about preventing that.
Energy poverty doesn’t need to be a problem, we just need to REACH out.