Eradicate local fuel poverty
From Energy Cities Wiki
The era of cheap energy is over. The costs for accessing the deposits as well as production and transport costs are making further increases in energy prices inevitable. The introduction of energy and/or carbon taxes in lieu of labour taxes that penalise the economy also has a role to play in this. Taxing a rare product leads to a reduction in its consumption, one of the major components of the energy transition.
We are, therefore, going to use less of a more expensive energy. The thermal quality of our dwellings and the performance of our equipment will improve. A more virtuous approach to urban planning will make us adopt new modes of transport, leading to behavioural changes.
During this transition phase, an increasing proportion of the population will not be able to pay for heating and transport, two essential functions of everyday life. Several countries have adopted a plan to fight fuel poverty, with varying results. Action must be taken at the local level, where social situations are better known.
A local fuel poverty eradication plan is an accurate and geo-localised diagnosis of both collective and individual situations. A strategy is also needed to provide sustainable solutions. Emergency situations are a matter for conventional social welfare services. But the overall aim is to eradicate the cause: the lack of insulation in dwellings, poorly efficient heating systems and peri-urban sprawl. An energy transition that does not consider social issues will not work.
• Drawing up a set of indicators to monitor the progress of fuel poverty eradication.
• Making the results visible.
• Establishing a solid relationship between social, energy and housing services, energy suppliers and all potentially interested partners.
• Linking local actions with national schemes.
• Networking with other cities engaged in similar approaches.
County Durham, United-Kingdom
Do old people have to choose between heating and eating?
Some people do not heat their homes properly because of their low income, having to choose between heating and eating. Historically, County Durham has a higher than average rate of excess winter deaths. Those aged 85 or over are at the greatest risk. As energy and food bills rose during 2008, tackling fuel poverty and preventing excess winter deaths became increasingly important.
In Durham, the creation of a county-wide service - the ‘Rights to Warmth’ Partnership - helps vulnerable people navigate the complex area of fuel prices, grants and funding streams.
Utrecht, The Netherlands
The fight against fuel poverty creates jobs!
Approximately 20,000 low-income households live in Utrecht. These households are more vulnerable to increasing energy prices and spend a proportionally larger part of their income on energy. Utrecht offered a free energy consultation and an energy savings box to 12,000 households. Unemployed people were trained to become consultants and assisted other households to apply the energy measures. The low-income households were recruited through mailings and in person at weekly markets.
More than 7,000 low-income households participated in the action in one year. The estimated reduction of CO2 is 6,400 tons a year. Fifty unemployed people worked on the project and at least twelve of them have since found jobs in the energy sector.
Free insulation measures for all!
Considering that a significant number of Kirklees’ residents were living in fuel poverty, the council introduced a ‘Warm Zone’ project covering 172,000 homes in the domestic sector between 2007 and 2010. Fitting insulation and encouraging energy efficiency in all private sector homes was seen as an opportunity to simultaneously tackle climate change, health and poverty. Kirklees’ ‘Warm Zone’ brought together £21 million (more than €26 million) to offer free insulation measures to everyone in the city.
After operating for two years, the average householder’s energy savings were £200/year (approximately €250), and reported carbon savings were 30,000 tons CO2/year. The Kirklees ‘Warm Zone’ created 103 full time equivalent jobs and resulted in the opening of a new local insulation depot and a national training centre.