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ACtions in low income Households to Improve energy efficiency through Visits and Energy diagnosis (ACHIEVE)

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How to help low-income households making significant savings on their energy consumption and bill, while giving value to already existing proposals that already proved to be economically, socially, environmentally efficient? Starting from this question, the aim of ACHIEVE is to contribute to practical (energy uses and behaviours) and structural (retrofitting buildings) solutions for reduction of fuel poverty in Europe. In ACHIEVE, long-term unemployed people, volunteers or students are mobilized and trained to develop a large-scale energy advice service towards low-income households facing difficulties with their energy bills. The service is based on home visits, which main purposes are:
  • to understand vulnerable consumers’ energy consumption, bills and habits, and to check their appliances with a set of reporting/analysing tools;
  • to distribute and install a set of free energy and water saving devices, and give advice to the households on how to implement further practical measures for saving energy;
  • to analyse which longer-term solutions can be brought to improve the households’ situation, by linking local actors into a concerted local action plan.

Results

  • Focus groups gathering a variety of local actors such as local authorities (municipalities, county councils), social housing providers, social welfare and charity organisations, energy agencies and services, schools, and obviously households themselves, have been held on each pilot territory to set up comprehensive local action plans. Between 15 and 30 people participated at each site level to these focus groups, representing 7 to 14 different organisations or key stakeholders.
  • Each partner defined the scope of the devices they will use during the visits, depending on:
    • The time needed to install the devices;
    • The fact that devices must stick to the household’s situation;
    • The availability and the costs of each of the devices on the respective national markets (linked to the willingness of transferability and reproducibility of the project activities).
    • Targets on Energy and CO2 reductions;
    • The quality of the devices. People need to accept the material (user-friendly) and to be able to reckon on its efficiency for a long time (quality).
  • A variety of materials and tools have been produced for the project: training modules, guides for advisors trained and for structures hiring the advisors, calculation tools to assess the actual and future consumptions of the households before and after a visit. All of these are downloadable on www.achieve-project.eu
  • Since the launch of the visits (Feb. 2012), around 2000 households have been visited by the 150 advisers trained during the project. The duration of the training for energy advisors is 50 hours in average (plus the time dedicated to their supervision all along the project). In each visited household, an average of 44€ of various free energy and water saving devices have been distributed, generating a saving of 150€ and 320 kg of CO2 per year. Most of the visits last in average 60-90 minutes (twice, as there are systematically 2 visits).
  • ACHIEVE has been presented at a series of regional, national and EU events. Notably, ACHIEVE partners organized a EU conference in Brussels with the European Economic and Social Committee, on the 5th of March 2014, on the general topic of fuel poverty across Europe: « Fighting energy poverty: Towards a European political framework as new driver for action? ».
  • 6 newsletters were issued in all the languages of the project (every 6 months) and disseminated Europe-wide.
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Lessons learned

  • When recruiting energy advisers to be trained, a particular focus should be put on their social and communication skills: even if a large part of the work around the visits is technical (assessment and calculation of the main possible energy and water savings, advice given to households to reduce their consumption), the visits are also largely about "human" contact. If technical capacities can be strengthened, it is not necessary the case about the ability to talk and listen to people.
  • Targeted households sometimes never received any visits since a long time from “external” parties. This has 2 major consequences:
    • Time dedicated to 1 visit can be much ore higher than expected, as people might have a lot to say to advisers (sometimes beyond the core purpose of the visit)
    • A lot of critical situations linked to unsanitary / inadequate housing call for the need to organise, from the very beginning of the project, appropriate responses and procedures when such situations are needed.
  • Long-term unemployed people or volunteers trained to perform the visits can leave the programme when another job opportunity comes to them. Regular new training sessions must be planned for the new advisers recruited. Time dedicated to training activities and to supervise/follow the advisers before they can be fully operational on their own should not be underestimated.
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Partners and coordinator

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Contact

CLER, Network for the energy transition
France
Contact point: 
Name: 
Mr Yannick Régnier
Tel: 
0033 1 55 86 80 00
Name: 
Marie MOISAN
Tel: 
0033155868007

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In brief

Duration:
21/04/2011 to 20/04/2014
Contract number: 
IEE/10/431/SI2.589429

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