By deploying Home Energy Advisors (HEAs) to work with vulnerable people in six countries, ASSIST is collecting personal insights and much-needed data that will help all actors better understand energy and social aspects of energy poverty.
With three-year funding from the European Commission’s ‘Home 2020’ programme, ASSIST (Support Network for Household Energy Saving) aims to improve circumstances for 48 000 consumers across six countries: Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Poland, Belgium and Finland.
Skilled HEAs are a key aspect of the ASSIST programme. Once trained, these experts consult with those most affected by energy poverty about how to change behaviour to reduce energy consumption and energy bills.
In addition to providing quality information to households, the network of HEAs will be able to share insights about how energy poverty differs from one context to another and to collect data that is relevant to research and policy makers.
Recognizing the importance of factors such as climate, energy sources, energy prices, building quality and social norms, ASSIST will help each country find specific solutions for its unique challenges. ASSIST has created qualification schemes to ensure HEAs in each country receive region-specific training.
ASSIST anticipates that HEAs may later be hired by consumer associations, charities and other social actors, or by energy providers and smart home market actors. Ultimately, this will provide more focused and more integrated help on all problems related to energy poverty—e.g. paying bills, improving comfort level by being more efficient with home energy consumption, and building better consumer-producer relationships to improve access to financial, social and energy support.
The ASSIST programme will culminate in a comprehensive report (provisionally titled Vulnerable Consumers and Energy Poverty Report to be published in 2020) designed to help governments, social organisations and energy providers make informed decisions on how to best support energy-poor citizens.
Marina Varvesi, of the Agenzia per l'Innovazione, lo Sviluppo e la Formazione (Agency for Innovation, Development and Education) in Italy, who serves as a project manager of ASSIST, is among 15 finalists in the Tackle Fuel Poverty Initiative launched by the Schneider Electric Foundation, the Ashoka Foundation, and Enel Group. Check out her video interview to learn more.