Energy Poverty Intelligence Unit

Identifying and reducing energy poverty to create healthier homes

Edited on 09/01/2024

Project proposal by

  • Institution : Getafe Municipal Land and Housing Company (EMSV Getafe)
  • City : Getafe
  • Country : Spain
  • Type of region : More developed
  • Population : 185 899

I am looking for

  • Project Partners

The city of Getafe (Spain) developed the Energy Poverty Intelligence Unit under the Urban Innovative Actions initiative to identify and end hidden energy poverty. Within this framework, the Energy Poverty Intelligence Unit (EPIU) project tackled energy poverty in the city’s two most vulnerable neighbourhoods: Las Margaritas and La Alhóndiga. The project’s innovation lies in a new approach that goes beyond monetary poverty and reacting to existing energy poverty, by adopting a broader perspective and using data to prevent energy poverty occurring. The project’s innovative tool is based on a data analytics system that collects information on energy consumption, income and other factors determining energy poverty. The system clusters energy poverty vulnerable groups by their sociodemographic and spatial characteristics at three levels: the home, the building, and the neighbourhood. After the project’s tool has identified energy-vulnerable cases, these are managed by a cross-disciplinary team from Getafe’s city authority and its public housing company. They assess the implementation of tailor-made solutions, as well as compensatory engagement actions, for the selected homes, buildings and neighbourhoods affected by both heating and cooling energy poverty.




What SOLUTIONS did the Urban Innovative Action project offer?


The Energy Poverty Intelligence Unit (EPIU) project identified and alleviated hidden energy poverty using a three-pillar approach:

1. Data analytics system: A tool developed for improved identification and support, as well as the implementation of the EPIU data system.

2. Outreach: Establishment of the Healthy Homes Office / Oficina de Hogares Saludables (OHS) to support residents, by offering them information, advice and assistance on energy efficiency in a clear, reliable manner using non-technical language.

3. Tailor-made solutions: These include subsidised renovations, where residents are not obliged to pay upfront costs or undertake any work themselves, and can involve both behavioural change and infrastructure measures. For example, energy audits, energy efficiency kits, management of supply interruptions, and the installation of passive solutions. In future, measures may also include reduced tax burdens on participating residents.


What DIFFERENCE has it made at local level?


During the first year of the project, over 800 families utilised the Healthy Homes Office service and directly benefitted from advice, guidance, and improvements in their energy bills. The information provided included advice on service cuts, social benefits, and mediation with energy suppliers and distributors. On average, the families reduced their energy bills by more than 25%.

The EPIU project considerably increased the attention given to energy poverty in the municipality of Getafe. It generated a very significant amount of data, and developed management systems through its data analytics system and tool. The data was consolidated into the first characterisation of hidden energy poverty in Getafe. The new system supports transversal cooperation across departments, to provide new local services with tailor-made solutions at the home, building and neighbourhood levels.


What PARTICIPATORY APPROACHES have been put in place for the project?


The EPIU project’s Healthy Homes Office focused on communicating with residents in two energy poverty vulnerable neighbourhoods, Las Margaritas and La Alhóndiga. It launched a range of communication initiatives on its website and other digital platforms (e.g. Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram) and through more conventional media outlets (radio, TV and press). A local information campaign included posters that were visible across the city, and brochures targeted at people not reached through digital platforms. Between March and April 2023, the Mayor of Getafe led a series of meetings in these two neighbourhoods involving a diverse range of groups, including businesses, residents, sports and social clubs, NGOs, parent-teacher associations, and youth groups.

The project team also organised two informative walking routes to showcase the progress of their work in the two neighbourhoods. Residents had the opportunity to explore their neighbourhood, understand how its buildings behave in relation to energy consumption and generation, and learn ways to improve their energy efficiency. These tours, lasting 60-90 minutes, highlighted the advances made by the project and its contributions to the community of Getafe. Additionally, participants received information on home energy efficiency.


How does the project tackle different aspects with an INTEGRATED APPROACH?


The EPIU project adopted an integrated approach that simultaneously tackled economic, social, and environmental aspects.

Economic: An acknowledgment of the financial constraints faced by individuals experiencing energy poverty by providing tailored solutions, including subsidised renovations, to alleviate the economic burden on residents. Additionally, efforts are underway to reduce the fiscal load on participants engaging in public rehabilitation plans.

Social: Getafe has a unique social dynamic, with energy poverty concentrated in specific areas inhabited by elderly and migrant populations. The project’s participatory approach engaged with these communities through outreach activities and the design of services that are understandable, trustworthy, and culturally sensitive. The Healthy Homes Office was established to support residents, particularly those in long-term poverty and elderly individuals, which also fosters social inclusivity.

Environmental: The environmental dimension was addressed by implementing energy-efficient measures, including energy audits, the distribution of energy efficiency kits, and the use of smart sensors to monitor and reduce energy consumption. Furthermore, the project team were involved in a neighbourhood cooling initiative, demonstrating their commitment to mitigating energy poverty while considering environmental sustainability.


Why should other European cities use the solution the project explored?


Firstly, the EPIU approach has demonstrated its effectiveness: energy vulnerability was significantly reduced in urban areas, improving residents’ quality of life and thermal comfort, as well as fostering their autonomy.

Secondly, intervention in line with EPIU can quantify and qualify identified hidden energy poverty, to gain a deeper understanding of the problem and to determine which public interventions work best and under which circumstances. This is key for an efficient use of public resources, by prioritising interventions where they are most needed.

Thirdly, citizens become more aware of the risks and negative impacts of energy poverty, as well as public services available and potential actions to reduce energy vulnerability in their homes, buildings, and neighbourhoods.

Finally, EPIU improves collaboration between different areas of the City Council and enhances civil servants’ skills.