Energy efficiency is at the heart of the STEP project. While initiatives at the European and national levels are key to the project’s success, it is also important for the STEP partners to encourage change at the individual consumer level.

To communicate these ideas, a multi-pronged approach has been used, which has included consumer workshops and one-to-one advice. Another key way of informing consumers, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been through social media and digital content, which inspired UK STEP partner Citizens Advice to develop a series of YouTube videos to promote energy efficiency.

All of the videos show simple, low-cost (or free) tips that can be implemented in the home to improve energy efficiency and thus bring down energy bills. The tips are diverse, including how to wash and dry clothes more efficiently, how to cook and use appliances more effectively, and how to better insulate your home. Since their release, the videos have been translated by other STEP members, so that they are now available in English, Bulgarian, Greek, Portuguese and Slovakian.

Another communications initiative tied to overcoming the financial hurdle of energy poverty has been Portuguese partner DECO’s blog post on home energy renovations in Portugal, as part of a BEUC blog series dedicated to sustainable housing.

While Portugal suffers from chronic energy inefficiency across the building stock, the government has launched recent schemes dedicated to tackling the issue, with specific mentions of energy poverty included. DECO are also hopeful that through green loans from banks, the national ‘Casa Eficiente 2020’ programme and new investments under the Recovery and Resilience Plan, energy poverty can become a thing of the past.

In the meantime, DECO and the other STEP partners will continue to advocate and come up with innovative communication plans to tackle the issue.

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The STEP project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 847080.