Background to the programme
The PACT network is committed to the maintenance of and access to decent housing for vulnerable people. In order to cope with growing energy poverty in households, in 2007 PACT Rhone launched an experimental action with the aim of « Comprendre pour mieux traiter » ("Understanding to treat better "). The positive results of this experiment (see results and impacts) have given rise to a permanent and evaluated action to fight against energy poverty in an exemplary manner.
Objectives of the programme
To assess, prevent and treat fuel poverty situations in the Rhône department.
- Identification of households occupied by homeowners and private tenants who find it difficult to adequately warm their home and pay their energy bills. Households are collective or individual developments and in urban or rural areas in the Rhône department. Households are identified by:
• PACT through its various missions,
• Info Energy Spaces HESPUL and ALE
• Anah and the identification through its program « Habiter Mieux », ("Living Better")
• The Department of Social Workers
• the CCAS, foundations and associations that work with deprived households.
- Implementation of the action: socio-technical assessment + educational support (on consumption usage) and with renovation work (financial package) + social and budgetary support + mediation with property owners
Quantitative and qualitative results from the implemented actions
- Results: since 2007, more than 30 households on average each year of which about half carried out a renovation work program
- Creation of the concept of "energy relocation" when unavoidable housing costs are unsustainable: Resource - (rent + bills + energy bills), When maintaining people in their current home is not possible in the long term, rather than finding short term solutions so that the household can pay its bills, it is better to help the household to find alternative accommodation (support with the process which could be either a tenant or a home owner).
- The action was made permanent with the same three pronged approach (assessment + education + renovation work) thanks to the renewed financial support of the Rhône-Alpes Region and, depending on the year, the support of the Department and several local council communities. In fact, PACT offers this action in all areas of Rhone in order to be able to meet the needs of households as consistently as possible.
- In 2010, an assessment of the results and impacts of the pilot phase was carried out by OSL sociologists thanks to the support of PUCA (interviews with households).
- In 2014, a partnership between PACT and INSA Lyon, as part of a Research based Masters program, has allowed the completion of a qualitative assessment of 18 households who carried out renovation work: emphasising the importance of the improvement in thermal comfort and their life (13 out of 18 households), financial savings made although difficult to quantify, additional social effects (health, social connection, self-esteem), the difficulty of feeling ownership over the new appliances installed and the integrating effect of the help (the supported households feel included in the common law and sustainable development): for more details, see the appendix
This is an experimental operation that succeeded in becoming sustainable and overcame the difficulties that most experiments meet: to integrate exceptional actions into the working lives of organisations without additional funds or human resources. It can, in this respect, provide useful lessons on the key factors to make an experiment permanent so that it has a real impact in the long term.
Partnership(s) developed in the context of the programme
- For the operational and identifying side: the Espace Info Energie Hespul, ADIL, the Local Energy Agency
- For the evaluation: OSL for the experiment, INSA for the permanent action
- On financing:
• Experiment: Rhone Department, Fondation de France, Fondation Abbé Pierre, ADEME,
• Permanent Action: the Rhône-Alpes region via its energy insecurity mitigation fund, local authorities (Est lyonnais, Vallée du Garon, Pays de l’Ozon, Haute-Vallée d’Azergues, CCSB), EDF, ANAH
Difficulties and/or obstacles encountered during the programme’s implementation :
- For the evaluation: difficult to isolate concrete financial savings as households keep very little trace of their bills and the time needed to feel a real impact is long; effect of weather conditions
- Choice from a package of renovation work: difficult choice between a package of comprehensive and effective but expensive renovation work, and a smaller package that is more affordable but with fewer benefits. Difference between the household's expectations and requirements for aid sometimes poorly received.
Solutions used to overcome the difficulties and/or obstacles :
- For the evaluation: leave a gap (at least one full winter) between the end of the work and recontacting so as to better assess the impact with hindsight.
- Creation of the "energy relocation" concept to deal with situations where intervention on the building is unthinkable and where the support for energy savings alone is not enough.
Suggestions for future improvement :
Summary of factors responsible for the programme’s success :
- Taking into account the long term: this experiment has overcome the challenge of sustainability thanks to a thoughtful approach, an assessment and a preliminary inventory that enabled an action that was really adapted to the needs of people to be offered (eg changes in the target )
- Importance of evaluation: the experiment, as well as the early years of the permanent action, have been the object of both quantitative and qualitative evaluations, that allowed the impacts to be highlighted and promoted its social usefulness with funders
- Partnership: this is a multi-partner project that involves all actors concerned with fuel poverty in order to offer the most comprehensive response possible on different aspects of the problem.
To know more
Appendix: post-work survey