Energy Poverty Advisory Hub Handbooks
The Energy Poverty Advisory Hub (EPAH) Handbooks are a series of practical guidebooks targeting energy poverty, energy transition, and energy efficiency, all with a socially just perspective. The guidebooks are mainly for the local governments and practitioners in the sector. There will be four handbooks in total: (1) Introduction, (2) Assessment of energy poverty at an identified local level (diagnosis), (3) Development of an informed plan (planning), and (4) Execution of an impactful energy poverty project (implementation).
First of four EPAH publications is out
The first handbook, the Introduction to the Energy Poverty Advisory Hub (EPAH) Handbooks: A Guide to Understanding and Addressing Energy Poverty, is aiming to “present the concept of energy poverty with the different approaches that can be useful for obtaining a general picture of energy poverty in your local government as well as the initial introduction to the methodology to tackle energy poverty”.
The handbook introduces the reader to two main thematic sections:
- Energy poverty at the local level
- Energy poverty occurs everywhere and there are multiple factors and effects of energy poverty. Energy-poor households suffer not only financially, but their health and well-being are impacted as well.
- Hence, it is believed that “addressing energy poverty could bring multiple benefits, including improved indoor comfort and personal wellbeing, a decrease in government expenditure on health, higher levels of educational attainment, economic development, and a reduction in carbon emissions” (p.7).
- Planning actions to tackle energy poverty – a circular methodology
- to understand the current local reality, the local diagnosis is the best starting point in designing for action to tackle energy poverty. The information gained from the diagnosis can be further used to create a “Local Social Climate Plan where concrete actions are identified, planned and ready to be implemented. The implementation will conclude with an impact assessment and monitoring followed by a new round of analysis that is part of a new diagnosis” (p.14).
- The energy poverty phases identified are:
- Energy Poverty Diagnosis
- Local Social Climate Plan
- Impact Assessment
Causes of energy poverty
The Handbook states there are three main causes of energy poverty:
Low income level: Low income can result from low salary, job insecurity, unemployment, low social protection or a combination of these. The most affected people here are the most vulnerable ones, such as single parents, people with disabilities, or people of older age.
Low household energy efficiency and energy performance of buildings: Poor quality houses and appliances, old heating systems, lack of insulation and many more are all factors influencing the quality of living and the price of energy. Moreover, many times it is hard for tenants/homeowners to improve these factors as their options are limited either financially or from the side of the landlord.
High energy prices: Prices of energy are easily influenced by external factors such as socio-political-technical systems, natural events, and climate change policies and measures, which can make certain groups of people more vulnerable than others.
The handbook lists vulnerability factors that refer to groups of people who are at higher risk of falling into the energy poverty trap:
- Sociodemographic factors: a group of people at higher risk of energy poverty, such as social aid beneficiaries, social housing tenants, people living in a rented home, people with low levels
of education, or ethnic minorities.
- Household composition: single parents, pensioners, families with people with disabilities, or young students in rental apartments.
- Health: people with illnesses that either require special attention to indoor thermal conditions like cardiovascular, respiratory diseases or other illnesses that weaken the immune system.
- Energy literacy: lack of awareness of the problem and little knowledge of domestic energy issues, lack of financial opportunities, and poor household energy planning.
- Cultural: people that underestimate the problem due to historic habituation to cold, or have a historical and contextual preference for low-efficiency equipment.
Energy Poverty Handbook, 2nd edition
In September 2022, the second edition of the Energy Poverty Handbook has been released. In the foreword, Keilani Farha, Former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, stated that this year, the topic of housing has been challenged by the extreme heatwaves, COVID-19 pandemic, extreme increase not only in the cost of living but also construction materials, and lastly, the expected rise of energy costs by 30% as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. All these factors impact us all, but those suffering the most are low-income households and vulnerable groups of people. The increase in expanses “leaves many to choose between heating one’s home, turning on lights, or paying for rent or food” (p.6). Keilani calls governments and municipalities to action, noting that the energy poverty crisis is a crisis of human rights.
The handbook consists of 22 articles from organisations engaged in climate and social spheres, poverty, housing, clean energy transition, organisations working with municipalities and citizen cooperatives, and energy agencies, to name a few.
The handbook is divided into three thematic parts:
- Decent, safe, and affordable housing for all
- Here, we would like to highlight an article written by our partner, MRI, regarding Energy poverty in multi-family apartment buildings in post-socialist Europe (p.17)
- Clean, affordable energy as a human right
- Social justice and an end to the cost of living crisis
Meanwhile, check the most recent publication of the Residential Energy Efficiency (REE) Observatory in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), which also covers topics such as energy poverty, energy efficiency, multi-apartment buildings and many more, here.