Over the last 6 months, consumer organisations in STEP (Solutions to Tackle Energy Poverty) project have been working at full speed to identify the best ways to reach out to the energy poor. With over 50 million people struggling to heat their homes, our biggest challenge is helping such consumers reduce their energy bills.
How did we do it?
In Lithuania, LVOA (Lietuvos vartotojų organizacijų aljansas) presented STEP to the Annual Convention of the Lithuanian Social Workers. This motivated many attendees to sign up to be trained as energy advisers. As a result, they will offer energy advice to people in need on top of their daily social work.
CCA also organised lectures as part of their Consumer School and as a result raised awareness around academia and municipalities on the risks of energy poverty.
In Latvia, LPIAA (Latvijas Patērētāju interešu aizstāvības asociācija) reached out directly to multi-storey building managers from the city of Jelgava, which is one of the major cities in the country. Building managers are the perfect frontline workers as they are in daily contact with their tenants, know who faces energy poverty and can provide them with energy advice and support.
The UK’s Citizens Advice (CA) has targeted charities that are already involved in working with vulnerable consumers, either in debt, poverty or facing health issues. The charity workers on the field will become a national referral network, identify those in energy poverty and then direct them for advice to CA.
The Portuguese Association for Consumer Protection, DECO, has its own energy advisers that offer advisory services to consumers. On top of this, DECO will also train people in advisory or social offices within Municipalities. SOS (Spoločnosť ochrany spotrebiteľov) from Slovakia has been very effective by teaming up with all the NGOs that represent the vulnerable consumer groups.
There is no single way to effectively reach out to energy poor people and advise them on how to cut their energy bills. However, many actions by the STEP partners can successfully be replicated in other countries or can serve as an inspiration for other partners’ activities.