Rental contract for energy-efficient household appliances to combat energy poverty
In Flanders, more and more people are experiencing difficulties paying their energy bills. The OCMW of Temse also noticed this increase in energy poverty among its clients.
In order to gain a better insight into this problem, we started the two-part project Green White Goods. If we gain a better insight into the number of people living in energy poverty, the circumstances in which they live and where the problem is located, we can also take preventive action. For example, we can guide people with energy debt more intensively through an energy coach. Indirectly, this will lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions.
In the first subproject, we visited our clients who received an energy allowance to install a home meter and carry out an energy scan. Energy-saving tips were given and the general living conditions were mapped out. For example, we gained insight into the state of the existing household appliances. This information enabled us to start up the second sub-project: an investigation into the possibilities of a circular lease for energy-efficient household appliances.
This is the first project in Temse that links circular objectives to social objectives.
Together with the Energiesnoeiers (non-profit organisation Den Azalee), we carried out energy scans on 89 households that receive an energy allowance. Most of the houses were in a pitiful state: insulation, glazing, boilers, etc. were often out of order.
During the home visits, people received numerous concrete energy-saving tips and information on the importance of energy-efficient household appliances and climate-conscious living. Thanks to the physical visits, many tips were actually put into practice.
Based on the surveys, we were able to make an inventory of the state of the white goods present. This showed that more than 50% of the household appliances did not have an energy-efficient label.
We carried out a market survey to find a distributor interested in circular leases. After all, many people are interested in renting energy-efficient appliances if they cannot buy any themselves. Discussions are ongoing.
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED
Our research showed that the high energy bills and energy debts had two causes:outdated appliances and ignorance. Our project therefore certainly has a great added value and can prevent people from ending up in energy poverty.
Because many clients have little understanding of Dutch or find it difficult to learn things, it is important that the energy savers focus more on tips in person, and not just on describing them in the report. The timing is also important: in winter, the effect of the tips is greater, which is extra motivating.
Actually, we should carry out an energy scan as standard with all new OCMW clients. If it then becomes apparent that someone belongs to the risk group for energy poverty, we can immediately take preventive action with more intensive guidance in order to avoid debts.
It was not easy to find a distributor interested in our concept of a circular lease for household appliances. We currently have two potentially interested parties (Marivan and Mediamarkt), but discussions are still ongoing.
+50%appliances without A-label
63,7%Interest in green household appliances
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
We would like to meet the needs of our clients and make low-energy basic appliances available through rental agreements. However, the search for an interested distributor is not easy and discussions about this are still ongoing.
Furthermore, a proposal was formulated to include energy poverty in socially vulnerable families as an action point in the Intermunicipal Cooperation (IGS) Housing - Local Housing Policy with Interwaas. This would make it possible to tackle energy poverty preventively in Temse, and thus to continue this project.
As a matter of fact, at Samenlevingsopbouw West-Vlaanderen a similar project was already started: Papillon. This project could possibly expand over the whole of Flanders. In that case the social worker on energy poverty of OCMW Temse can work together with West Flanders Community Development to lead this project in Temse.