Within the framework of STEP’s activities, Portuguese partner DECO has created an Energy Support Office. Here consumers can receive individual advice and support on how to manage their energy consumption, improve their household’s energy performance, and apply for support schemes to improve energy efficiency in the home.
Important supporting mechanisms have been implemented by the Portuguese government in recent years such as the “More Sustainable Building Programme”, which began in September 2020, starting with an initial €4.5m investment, further reinforced with an additional €5m, given the interest it generated among consumers. Following the first successful phase of this programme, which ran until December 2020, the second edition started in June 2021 and will cover several types of efficiency measures, from windows and wall insulation to more efficient heating systems. This new phase foresees a €30m budget from the Portuguese Recovery and Resilience Plan and will be open for applications until November, should the fund last until then.
As part of the EU-funded STEP project, DECO has been supporting and advising consumers regarding this programme’s application process. Applicants can receive up to 85% funding for their renovation project.
Unfortunately, funding applications must be submitted after the household’s renovation, meaning that the programme is not a possibility for everyone – consumers who do not have the financial resources to implement the renovation will need to find an alternative solution (such as a consumer credit) in order to benefit from it. So far, more than 100 consumers have received individual advice from DECO, and many have requested help on how to apply to the More Sustainable Buildings Programme.
The importance of support mechanisms and consumer advice are key; the programme demands that applications be submitted online, so digital literacy and some technical knowledge are required. However, not everyone has internet access, or has the digital and technical skills to submit the application. As such, consumer organisations have a key role to play in getting the application process over the line.
The success of the project so far highlights that STEP has managed to build capacity in consumer organisations, and with many other frontline workers, to perform such tasks and guide consumers towards a more efficient home.
Read more about Portugal’s renovation scheme here.