COOLTORISE: Raising summer energy poverty awareness to reduce cooling needs
Eurostat data reveals that the 11% of the total population of the European Union is unable to keep their home adequately warm. Caused by low household income, high energy bills, and low dwelling energy efficiency, energy poverty has traditionally been associated with the inability of households to meet their heating needs during winter. However, up to the 19% of households declared not being comfortably cool in summer. Nine of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2005, with the last five years comprising the five hottest. Climate change is increasing both the severity and frequency of extreme hot weather and heat waves, which negatively impacts human health and wellbeing. Thus, cooling needs and overheating risk need to be incorporated into the energy poverty equation.
Since September, 2021, a new H2020-funded project will perform targeted activities in 4 EU countries to raise awareness on summer energy poverty in order to stimulate a reduction in energy use during the hottest months of the year. For three years, COOLTORISE will involve and work with stakeholders and vulnerable families. The project aims to reduce summer energy poverty incidence among European households improving their indoor thermal habitability conditions and reducing their energy needs during the hot season, which will decrease their exposure to heat and heat-related health risks. First, heat exposure of energy poor households will be reduced by increasing indoor thermal conditions, which will decrease in their risk to suffer heat related diseases. Second, raising summer energy culture and preventing air conditioning devices to be installed can have serious benefits on climate change preventing future emissions.
Partners met online for the first time on 13-14-15 September to discuss the project’s first steps. These include identification and recruitment of volunteers as summer energy poverty agents (SEPA) in the four pilot countries, and development of training materials for the first training events that are supposed to start in the Spring of 2022. The training of SEPA is preparatory for the work to be done to support the households to manage their energy consumptions during the summer (especially during heat waves) and to increase their comfort level (cooler environment without increasing the energy consumption).