Training volunteers and long-term unemployed to become energy savers and offer advice on resources’ saving to low income households in the border areas of Upper Swabia, Voralberg and St Gallen-Appenzell.
The successful method used to help families save money and energy which began in Germany in 2009 and is called Stromspar-Check has been adapted and replicated in the cross-border area of Austria, Germany and Switzerland within the Alpenrhein-Bodensee-Hochrein Programme.
The main objective of the project is to assist and support those belonging to vulnerable groups such as the over 65, single parent families, unemployed and recipients of welfare benefits in those areas to save energy and money.
Long-term unemployed (in Germany) or volunteers (in Austria and Switzerland) are trained to become “energy savers”. Low-income households apply for a free energy saving check. The energy savers conduct house calls, analyse the energy and water consumption and work out possible saving possibilities. On a second visit they get the opportunity to set up specific energy saving devices and to provide professional suggestions.
The energy savers also help the households by showing them how to read and understand their electricity/energy bills.
In addition to the house visits a number of energy providers have also joined the project by providing energy saving devices, useful expertise, training and awareness raising campaigns.
The project assisted numerous households. An evaluation showed on average an annual saving of 215 kWh and 15 m3 of water per household. A group from the University of Applied Sciences and Social Work interviewed recipients of the power-saving checks and they all expressed that they were satisfied or very satisfied with the service. They appreciated that they were also able to learn something about the meaningful use of energy and water.
The project also offered benefits to the municipalities as it reduced their financial support to the low-income households related to energy and water consumption costs.
Aspects of good practice
This project represents the application on a cross-border basis of a successful action. Its results show a high degree of efficiency. It has excellent sustainability prospects with the benefits it has generated lasting well into the future for both the target population and the municipalities of the cross-border region.
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