At the end of the cold season, the heating is being switched off and consumers receive their energy bills. This year the winter was colder than usual in Portugal and the needs for energy consumption were higher due to lock-down measures, meaning that more time was spent at home.

In the first quarter of 2021, the requests for support and advice received at DECO in relation to energy bills increased by 61%, compared to the same period in 2020. In January alone, electricity consumption in the domestic segment increased by 31% compared to the same month in 2020. Many people received high bills also due to the use of inefficient heating solutions.

The Portuguese Government launched an extraordinary support measure for the electricity bills, which was based on a 10% reduction of the tariff. Despite this very well intended measure, it appears that the support was low in comparison to the increase in consumption felt by consumers.

At DECO we received examples of families who received invoices of € 200 for a month for their energy consumption, when the average amount they used to pay was only € 80, and this is due to the poor energy performance of homes and the lack of efficient heating systems. In order to better support consumers to manage their energy consumption, present solutions to improve the energy performance of their houses, or even guide them in applying for support mechanisms to improve energy efficiency, DECO created the Energy Advisory Office (GAE).

Acting specifically in this area, GAE has a team of 35 technicians prepared to inform and help citizens to improve the energy efficiency of their home, to manage their consumption, to understand the functioning of the energy market, as well as to use support mechanisms in situations of energy poverty.

GAE is an activity from the STEP project (Solutions to Tackle Energy Poverty) financed by the EU’s H2020 program) and also as part of the STEP project initiatives, DECO has published a Portuguese a set of videos that aim to give simple tips on how to consume energy more efficiently.

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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.