By connecting volunteers with people who need energy-related home renovations, Just a Change does more than lift households out of energy poverty: it helps build communities.
Poor quality homes leave many people in Portugal vulnerable to both winter cold and summer heat. In fact, with 27% of homes unable to afford sufficient heating or cooling, the country has one of the highest rates of fuel poverty in Europe.
Just a Change aims to transform lives by transforming homes. It works with social assistance organisations to identify homes facing fuel poverty, targeting particularly young families and the elderly in both rural and urban areas. It then recruits college-age volunteers to carry out much-needed home renovations. This approach helps raise public awareness of energy poverty and its impacts, potentially prompting participants to engage in the fight for better housing for all.
Importantly, the renovations Just a Change undertakes aren’t just cosmetic. They focus on measures, such as installing thermal insulation, that will help reduce both energy consumption and energy bills.
Facing an extended economic crisis, Portugal has a large number of households that have been disconnected from energy services due to non-payment of bills. In some cases, entire communities have been without electricity and water for two or three years. For these families, Just a Change, works with energy providers to facilitate reconnection.
By using energy efficiency to make homes more livable, Just a Change is reducing energy costs and improving quality of life throughout Portugal.
António Bello, co-founder of Just a Change, is one of 15 finalists in the Social Innovation to Tackle Fuel Poverty Initiative launched by the Schneider Electric Foundation, the Ashoka Foundation and Enel Group. Check out his video interview to learn more.