Contributing to the blog this week is Marine Cornelis, director and founder of Next Energy Consumer, EUSEW 2020 Digital Ambassador.
In 2017, 27.2 % of final energy consumption came from the residential sector, whether from heating the building or appliances used within the household. Meanwhile, 50 million consumers struggle to keep their homes adequately warm. Opting for energy-efficient appliances, adopting smarter behaviour and upgrading our house helps to keep our energy bills under control and protect the environment. In practice, energy efficiency means using less energy to keep our home warm or cool and improve indoor comfort while reducing energy poverty. Energy efficiency and renovation strategies are, therefore, at the heart of energy consumer policies, and the core reason why the EU and the Member States plans to engage in a ‘renovation wave’ of public and private buildings.
However, it is not always easy for consumers to find their way through the existing financing programmes and incentives and the multitude of services and appliances available. Household appliances, such as boilers or washing-machines, are often expensive. Renovating your home can feel very intimidating and costly. It is necessary to build trust in the process, guarantee the best value for money and that the consumer’s purchases are as sustainable as possible. But how should we build trust and make households want to take the plunge?
The EU has set up energy performance certificates, classifying appliances and housing from A (the best) to G (the worst). Anyone has the right to receive information about the energy efficiency of the tool or the property they wish to buy or rent. Member States must also establish inspection schemes for heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to ensure the safety and well-being of users. Thanks to energy performance certificates and high standards, energy efficiency in households has increased by 1.8% per year at EU level since 2000 while eliminating the most energy-intensive appliances.
Each Member State must also decide on programmes to provide information such as one-stop-shops, i.e. advisory tools that are reliable, transparent and accessible for customers. In France, for instance, the government and the energy agency have set up the Faire platform, a website people can visit to find information about energy renovation work. This platform enables them to get in touch with an official agent to signpost them through the process (including incentive application) and find certified contractors to carry out the work in total confidence.
Information, financial planning and affordability are central to the household decision-making process, in particular, when the family budget is already tight. The Papillon initiative in Belgium enables vulnerable households to rent highly efficient household appliances, thus pursuing a circular economy strategy. Programmes designed specifically for energy-poor consumers, such as ASSIST2GETHER, financed under Horizon 2020, appear, therefore, essential, so that as many people as possible can enjoy greater comfort while protecting the planet.
Marine is the director and founder of Next Energy Consumer, a Turin-based policy consultancy focused on the social aspects of the energy and climate transitions. She launched her company to help build a just transition, after having worked as an EU energy rights advocate for many years in Brussels.
Disclaimer: This article is a contribution from a Digital Ambassador. All rights reserved.
Neither the European Commission nor any person acting on behalf of the Commission is responsible for the use that might be made of the information in the article. The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) only and should not be considered as representative of the European Commission’s official position.