Energy poverty affects 20 to 25% of Spanish population. It can be defined as ‘the inability to adequately heat the home or use the energy needed because the cost is unaffordable. Hidden energy poverty is when households exhibit abnormally low energy expenditures. They may restrict themselves on energy consumption and expenditures, for example. Getafe’s Energy Poverty Intelligence Unit (EPIU) project sought to identify and reduce hidden energy poverty in two neighbourhoods, Las Margaritas and Alhóndiga, based on a three-pillar approach.
Pillar 1: A data analytics system
Getafe had no consolidated data because of a lack of cross-departmental working within the city administration and it lacked IT infrastructure. Moreover, many people facing hidden poverty (e.g., unlisted migrants) were invisible. EPIU’s first aim was to identify the reality of energy poverty and the needs of vulnerable groups. The aim was to intervene on the home, building and neighbourhood scales (population clusters) using a data analytics system. Along with a survey and data provided by the Red Cross, a socio-demographic analysis was carried out to understand the realities and needs of vulnerable groups. This initial analysis helped EPUI to develop a tool to improve the identification of energy poverty among residents, develop support measures, and put the EPUI data system in place.
Pillar 2: Outreach
Getafe set up a public-facing municipal office for energy improvements: the Healthy Households Office (OHS). The OHS provides a service to support residents in a way that they understand, trust, and without complex technical and bureaucratic language. For residents willing to take up energy efficiency or renewable energy measures, the Office provides support in the form of information & advice and also helps with contractual issues. Its beneficiaries have mostly been people in long-term poverty who are already supported by social services, as well as elderly people whose housing and economic conditions do not allow for real comfort in their homes. Additional focus is being given to residents suffering from power supply cuts and debt issues because of the difficulties of dealing with such extreme debt situations.
Pillar 3: Tailor-made solutions (TMS)
The EPIU is investing in tailor-made solutions for the residents of Getafe. These TMS involve subsidised refurbishment and residents are not required to pay any costs upfront or contract any work themselves. Some TMS are also remarkably simple measures, which can be offered to any resident, regardless of their socio-economic condition and legal status. They may be carried out to the benefit of population clusters at the home, building or neighbourhood scale and may involve soft (behavioural) and/or hard (installations) measures. Examples include energy audits, energy efficiency kits, the use of smart sensors to monitor and reduce energy consumption, supply cut management, and the installation of small and medium-scale passive solutions (thermal paint, curtains, awning, fans). Work on reducing the fiscal burden borne by residents when taking part in public retrofit schemes is also ongoing in the project.