In recent years, energy users have gained more rights with the transposition of relevant European energy legislation. There is nevertheless the recognition that consumers’ rights (with special reference to vulnerable consumers and energy poor) need to be further strengthened, and that the increasing market complexity needs to be addressed through concrete solutions to improve levels of empowerment and engagement.
ASSIST offers a two-way approach to the problem: active engaging of consumers in the energy market, and a positive change of behaviour in relation to energy consumption and to influence design of policy at all levels to tackle energy poverty issues.
The starting point of the project is the generation of in depth knowledge on consumer vulnerability and, more specifically, on energy poverty, as there is still no clear and unique definition for its identification and measuring.
Generation of in-depth knowledge. ASSIST will deliver first hand in-depth knowledge on energy poverty in Europe which will constitute the contents of the “Vulnerable Consumers and Energy Poverty Report”. The gained insight and in-depth information will enable partners to fine-tune the activities and National/European stakeholders to deepen their knowledge and trigger future initiatives to better fight energy poverty.
Home energy advisors (HEA) training. The project will insert in the social-energy market the new figure of the HEA Energy Advisors with knowledge on social, communication and technical aspects. The HEA will provide vulnerable consumers/energy poor with increased qualified, trustworthy, accessible, specific and target-oriented advice to be more efficient and/or better satisfy their energy needs.
Creation of HEA network. The creation and promotion of a network of trained HEA will have a two-fold objective, on one side to facilitate the access of vulnerable consumers to targeted effective support measures providing smart assistance of enhanced and increased quality, and on the other to favour the continuously increase of the HEA’s ability to support vulnerable consumers. The HEA network will set the basis for a long lasting dedicated and accessible service for vulnerable consumers on energy efficiency.
ASSIST Action will be carried out in each country to test possible actions to support vulnerable consumers/energy poor to be more efficient, i.e. reduce their energy bills or better satisfy their energy needs. Vulnerable consumer will be led hand-in-hand throughout an energy efficient pilot action to demonstrate that a good domestic energy efficient process is technically and economically feasible and that it actually leads to energy saving. The delivery of national actions will help identify effective means to tackle the energy poverty issue, facilitate their replication in other countries and favour their take-up in European/National policies.
Policy orientation. The combined results of activities and the specific policy orientation tasks will enable National and European stakeholders to measure household energy needs and target energy efficiency measures to low-income households living in energy inefficient houses.
EAPN’s main role in the project is to lead on the policy orientation work of the project and more specifically to create a European Vulnerable Consumers Steering Committee (VCSC) that will communicate to the 28 member states and support project partners in the creation of National Vulnerable Consumers’ Steering Committees. The inputs and feedback received during the national and European meetings will be used to develop a policy recommendation paper.